Last West Virginia county approves cannabis dispensaries

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia’s lone holdout in taking action on cannabis dispensary permits approved 20 of 21 proposals on Thursday, The Dominion Post reported.

The Monongalia County Board of Health approved the permits during a special session after coming under pressure to get the permits turned over to the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis, which will ultimately select up to 100 dispensary locations statewide.

Monongalia County Health Officer Lee Smith pushed back on the criticism during the remote meeting by saying that public health has been pushed to the breaking point — undercut by continual budget cuts then called to be the front line against COVID-19.

Even so, Smith said, the medical cannabis permits, which the Health Department received in June, were not going to get a rubber stamp as they did in many other counties.

Currently state law requires dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet way from a school or daycare facility. The one location that was denied was found to be within 1,000 feet of a daycare center. However, some of the other locations that were approved could fall afoul of stricter county regulation that are currently in the works.

Board of Health Chairman Sam Chico said the dispensaries approved on Thursday would not be grandfathered in.

“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,” Chico said.

Jason Frame, who leads the WV Office of Medical Cannabis, said they are finishing up the process of selecting processor locations.

“As soon as that’s finished, we will move on to dispensaries. I do anticipate that process moving quickly. However, I cannot give an exact date of when we will release the dispensary permits,” he said.

Kassie Simmons
Kassie Simmons joined the team in January 2019 as a weekend journalist. She graduated from Virginia Tech in just two and a half years with a BA in multimedia journalism. During her short time at Virginia Tech, she served as the editor for the university’s chapter of The Tab. Kassie was named the top reporter for The Tab at Virginia Tech on multiple occasions and made the list for the top 30 reporters for The Tab in the U.S. She also studied theater performance and minored in creative writing. Before coming to WOAY, Kassie interned at WSLS in Roanoke and the Tidewater Review in her hometown of West Point, Va. She has loved following breaking news since her childhood and has a passion for delivering the stories people care most about. Kassie is excited to be working in Southern West Virginia and looks forward to all the adventures ahead of her. You can follow her on Twitter at @KassieLSimmons and like her page on Facebook. If you have a story you think she should check out, send her an email at ksimmons@woay.com.