The majority of dispensary and processor licenses for West Virginia’s long-awaited medical cannabis project were provided from out-of-state business entities and owners.
The Office of Medical Cannabis of the Department of Health and Human Resources revealed last week that 100 dispensaries had been chosen from 32 companies with sites in 23 counties.
There are 22 out of the 32 companies selected as dispensaries included out-of-state organizations that operated 79 out of the 100 dispensary sites.
The numbers are based on a review of the Office of Medical Cannabis’ chosen dispensaries and processors and a search of the Office of the Secretary of State for West Virginia records.
Because of the legal concerns surrounding marijuana, a schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act states that, all the chosen manufacturers, laboratories, and producers was mandated to base their operations in West Virginia.
Under the Medical Cannabis Act of 2017, applicants were either required to be citizens of West Virginia or majority ownership of the business enterprise had to be owned by residents of the state.
The 24 entities enrolled in the state medical cannabis project, however, either had listed executive officials or mailing addresses based outside the state.
Holistic WV Farms I LLC and Harvest Care Medicinal LLC acquired a grower, processor license, and 10 dispensary licenses. Holistic WV Farms I LLC’s primary office address is located in Washington, D.C.
Other companies have officials or mailing addresses in Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia. In the case of dispensaries, only 21 permits went to West Virginia-based businesses out of the 100 permits available.
Andrea Lannom, DHHR’s Public Information Officer said, “The Office of Medical Cannabis can only base decisions on the selection criteria specified in law. The companies selected more fully and specifically addressed those criteria and therefore received higher scores and the resulting permits.”
House Minority Leader Pro Tempore Sean Hornbuckle, spoke last Wednesday during the West Virginia Press Association’s annual Legislative Lookahead.
“With the current medical cannabis program, some of the things I’m hearing in my district is we didn’t give the little guy a true chance to thrive and succeed,” Hornbuckle said.
He said policymakers ought to take an aggressive look at the state’s medical cannabis program to ensure that major companies in the industry do not drive away locally owned and governed applicants.
“If we were to look at the legalization and regulation of cannabis for adult use, it would do our state a lot of good and might even potentially be a tool in our toolkit for replacing some of that income. We could potentially bring in about $660 million and that would do a lot for our coffers,” Hornbuckle said.
Hornbuckle said that if Republican lawmakers are considering phasing out the personal income tax, then West Virginia should join the 15 states and 3 territories that legalize and tax recreational cannabis.
Washington, D.C., and 36 states permit the use of medical cannabis even beyond the federal criminalization of marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.