What medical marijuana passage means for those who want to grow, process, dispense or consume

FAYETTE COUNTY, WV (WOAY) – On Wednesday, the Fayette County Commission voted unanimously to accept the Medical Cannabis Act. This was signed into state law in 2017, but counties have the option to accept, and Fayette County voted to do just that. 

What this means is that Fayette County has extended their welcome to medical marijuana growers, processors and distributors by passing the act. According to the law, this will get competitive. There can only be 10 growers, 10 processors and 100 dispensaries in the state. 

“We have heard that there are a number of companies, of course, outside of West Virginia that have looked at properties in Raleigh and Fayette County but at this point, those applications will be accepted on Fayette County’s behalf actually in Charleston so we’re not aware of the actual names of the companies at this time,” Fayette County Commission President Denise Scalph said. 

The passage does not mean you can go out and start growing. This highly-regulated, competitive industry also comes at a high cost. A grower or processor will have to pay $50,000 just for the permit fee. 

Joe Brouse, the executive director for the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority, has studied the law and advised the county and predicts it will be large, experienced companies who will come in.

“There’s intense capital requirements to do this. It’s not just like anybody can say, ‘Hey, I want to be in the medical cannabis industry.’ A lot of the companies that we’re talking to have done this before, so they’re familiar with the application process,” Brouse said. “There’s a little bit of uncertainty about when those decisions on who gets the licenses will be made, so we’ll have to watch that very closely.” 

From an economic standpoint, the industry is predicted to bring jobs and increase the tax base. However, there is also the medical side.

According to the DHHR website, a release date for applications for the medical marijuana card has not been issued yet, so no one can apply for their card yet.

Commissioner John Brenemen said researching what it does for people in pain was the most convincing argument for passage. 

“And this will give them an opportunity to actually live a life,” Brenemen said. “So I look at it as what can we do for our citizens of the county or the surrounding counties to get them some help from what they’ve been going through.” 

When it comes to recreational usage, Fayette County Commission President Scalph says that is something she would need to do more research on if the state ever decides to take that up.

The applications for license to be a processor or distributor are due on February 18. 

Click here to read the application requirements.

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Anna Saunders
Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.