On April 19, 2017, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice signed the Medical Cannabis Act into law, effectively allowing cannabis to be used for certified medical use by a West Virginia resident with a serious medical condition. The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau of Public Health and Office of Medical Cannabis pledged to give residents with qualifying medical conditions access to medical marijuana within two years, but they haven’t been able to reach that goal. One factor that held the state’s medical marijuana program back was the lack of certified laboratories to test cannabis for quality control and potency.
The state opened an application process for medical cannabis testing labs late last year, but by the time it wrapped up on February 18, only one business had applied for a license, according to the Office of Cannabis. On June 29, West Virginia officials declared that the application process had been reopened and the state will be accepting applications for an undefined amount of time. Since the program’s problem had been the scarcity of medical cannabis testing labs rather than a surplus, there is currently no cap on the number of licenses the state will offer and it’s not clear if there will eventually be a cap.
“The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Bureau for Public Health today announced its Office of Medical Cannabis will resume accepting permit applications for medical cannabis laboratories. Laboratory permits are not limited in number and the application process will remain open indefinitely,” says a press release on the state website. The state is hoping enough testing labs can get registered for its medical marijuana program to be up and running by spring next year.
“This is a key step in the process to make medical cannabis available to West Virginians with serious medical conditions. We and many others continue to work toward a goal of providing eligible West Virginia residents the ability to procure quality-tested medical cannabis,” said Jason Frame, Director of the Office of Medical Cannabis when questioned about the new program. Like in last year’s application process, prospective testing labs will have their applications reviewed and they will undergo an extensive background check. Afterward, a scoring team will consider the applications and look at recommendations and best practices for issuing permits to the labs that have applied.
Additionally, physicians have been able to register to prescribe and treat their patients with medical marijuana since May 28. Doctors who sign up will have to complete a program called the West Virginia Medical cannabis program and pay a $189 fee.
Industry watchers say cannabis companies like Pure Extracts Corp. are hoping that the program finally takes off so that West Virginians have the opportunity to use medical cannabis to manage their health conditions.
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