Three years after West Virginia legalized medical marijuana in its jurisdiction in 2017, the state has held a successful special session in its Monongalia County Board of Health last October 22, 2020, Thursday, that saw the approval of 20 out of 21 cannabis dispensary permits for future medical marijuana dispensary sites in the future.

The 20 approved cannabis dispensary sites and proposed county regulations are reportedly posted at the Monongalia County Courthouse until November 8, 2020, pending public comment.

Despite seeing a massive approval, the Dominion Post believes that this number can still be cut down by half as West Virginia doubles down on its county safety guidelines in the future. People familiar with the matter say the jurisdiction is slated to bring on a more restrictive set of guidelines.

Dispensaries Approved in West Virginia

According to Cannabis Health Insider, the applications for the cannabis dispensary permits have been submitted in December 2019. However, the coming of the virus pandemic slowed this special session of the Monongalia County Board of Health.

With the virus pandemic leading to budget cuts and the board being called to be on the frontlines of the global pandemic, the approval and voting for sites took a standstill. However, Monongalia County Health Officer Lee Smith said although they have received a barrage of requests for medical cannabis permits in June, the applicants “were not going to get a rubber stamp as they did in many other counties.”

Smith also said that he “believe[s] it would be disingenuous to say that all counties are the same and, therefore, a blanket approval is all that is needed. Don’t get it right, get it writ has never been the mantra of this health department or board of health.”

Following the approval of the medical marijuana dispensary sites, the said firms are expected to undergo a more rigorous process of evaluation and scoring at the state level, reveals Cannabis Health Insider.

When asked if the Monongalia County Board of Health would intervene in the said locations, Chairman Sam Chico answered ‘no,’ saying “If they change the state law or regulation, they would have to comply. If we change or add an ordinance, they would have to comply.”

This is one of the reasons why the only site was rejected in the special session round of approval. The proposed location of this dispensary in question was along 274 Old Cheat Road, Morgantown, West Virginia, notes the Metro News.

According to Cannabis Health Insider, the site was found to be 921 feet away from a daycare center. However, the mandatory state law maintains that businesses and medical marijuana dispensaries should be at least 1,000 feet away from a school or daycare facility.

The special session health by the MCHD also emphasized that it had simply been approving permits for medical marijuana dispensaries or facilities, but it does not endorse the use of the drug.

Board of Health member Toni DiChiacchio said that public perception surrounding cannabis has been misconstrued in the past, with the drug being seen as “non-harmful.” However, the Dominion Post states that DiChiacchio believes that the drug is still harmful, which is why the board is there to help inform the public about its use.

Keep in mind the state has legalized medical marijuana back in 2017 but approvals for dispensaries are only being approved this year. The twenty dispensaries, recognized as the first batch in West Virginia, are still yet to become operational. So, in the future when medical marijuana dispensaries finally open in the state, here are some things you should expect:

  • Regulated Access

Medical marijuana programs are usually composed of policies regarding who, what, and how much. They outline eligibility requirements that help determine individuals who will be granted access to this medical treatment aid. It is also concerned with what types of products you can access, and how much you can purchase and possess. Many programs across the nation also have restrictions as to how much cannabinoid cannabis products will contain.

With these benchmarks shown by programs in other states, West Virginia will need to come up with a similar plan. According to Cannabis Health Insider, state authorities are yet to agree upon an adequate fee for implementing the plan. This is one of the reasons why the state’s program has been experiencing delays. Other reasons include opposition from groups and under banking.

  • Compliant with Laws

Should the state’s cannabis program push through soon, you can expect that dispensaries’ operations would be in accordance with its existing marijuana laws. Laws cover limitations such as cannabinoid content. However, they also talk about boundaries such as proximity to schools.

Other factors of the law include the number of dispensaries awarded with licenses and qualifications for the medical marijuana program, as well as the amount of cannabis you can possess, distribute, and purchase. Some states are even allowed to cultivate plants. Just keep in mind that every state’s plan varies depending on the state’s legislation, priority, and support.

  • Safety Protocols in Place

One of the most important things to remember that this current public health situation is expected to result in a new normal. This means that there may be adjustments to how these establishments will operate in light of the economic, social, and health effects of the pandemic. Some of the observances you might need to do are social distancing, proper hygiene, and the wearing of protecting gear.

The dispensary itself may introduce restrictions. If you are familiar with the cannabis culture in other states, you know that these stores sometimes offer sniff jars to give patients a whiff of the product’s aroma. This activity is not allowed now and it may not be allowed in the new normal. This is just one example as to how these stores can adjust.

  • Variety of Products

Of course, you can expect a wide variety of products to choose from, including bud strains, edibles, oils, and other similar items. This gives you different options to try and see how it affects your condition.

 Dispensaries Approved in West Virginia

The Bottom Line

West Virginia’s first batch of approved dispensaries may be yet to operate due to several reasons. However, this simple guide can give you an idea of what to expect from these stores in the future.

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