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Law West Virginia


Well-Known Member
It’s Official! West Virginia Governor Signs MMJ Bill into Law
At a time when uncertainty grips marijuana policy at the federal level, some states are still making progress toward sensible weed laws.

West Virginia became the newest state to join the ranks on Wednesday when Democratic Governor Jim Justice—who has probably the greatest name in politics—signed SB 386 into law, legalizing medical marijuana in the Mountain State.

What makes the passing even more remarkable is that the bill made it through a Republican-controlled legislature, joining Pennsylvania and Ohio in the regard.

That being said, this isn’t full legalization; according to the Marijuana Policy Project, “it charges the Bureau of Public Health with regulating medical marijuana growers, processors, and dispensaries. Patients with specifically listed qualifying medical conditions will be allowed to use extracts, tinctures, and other preparations of marijuana, but not marijuana in flower or leaf form.”

Still—progress is progress. (cont)
More news from the hills and hollows

New developments for medical marijuana in West Virginia

It may be two years before medical marijuana is available in West Virginia, but the wheels are in motion. Following legalization by the legislature and Governor, a 13-member Medical Cannabis Advisory Board has now been selected. It will study what has worked in other states.

"We're not interested in reinventing the wheel. What we want to do is learn from the good and the bad, as well as obviously the things that we don't want to do from other states. And then focus on things that have worked in other states," said Dr. Rahul Gupta, Chairman of the Advisory Committee.

The board will look at who can produce medical cannabis and how its distributed to patients. The current law does not allow smokable or edible medical marijuana, but that could change.

"There will be amendments made to it next year, I'm sure. Whether or not we're able to adopt those amendments is another story. But I think like any legislation, there's always going to the need for some tweaking around the edges." said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha.

The advisory board will have one patient advocate. Rusty Williams is a cancer survivor.

"I would leave chemo and I would be so nauseous, that everything would be spinning so violently I couldn't open my eyes. And with 30-seconds of one hit of cannabis, that would right itself and I was able to function. I was able to eat. It truly saved my life," said Russell Williams, WV Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

The board plans meetings across the state, and open to the public.

"As of now medical marijuana should be available in the Mountain State by July 1st of 2019. But lawmakers say if policies and procedures are in place well ahead of then, the date could be moved up," said Mark Curtis, 59 News Chief Political Reporter.
This is a sad tale. Wonder if that fuckwit, Sessions, thinks Johnsie is a "good person" or not....sigh

Can marijuana rescue coal country?

Johnsie Gooslin spent Jan. 16, 2015, tending his babies — that’s what he called his marijuana plants. More than 70 of them were growing in a hydroponic system of his own design. Sometimes, he’d stay in his barn for 16 hours straight, perfecting his technique.

That night, he left around 8 o’clock to head home. The moon was waning, down to a sliver, which left the sky as dark as the ridges that lined it. As he pulled away, the lights from his late-model Kia swept across his childhood hollow and his parents’ trailer, which stood just up the road from the barn. He turned onto West Virginia Route 65. Crossing Mingo County, he passed the Delbarton Mine, where he had worked on and off for 14 years before his back gave out. Though Johnsie was built like a linebacker, falling once from a coal truck and twice from end loaders had taken a toll. At 36, his disks were a mess, and sciatica sometimes shot pain to his knees.

Still, he managed to lift the buckets that held his plants; friends sometimes helped. In another part of the barn, they had set up a man cave with a big-screen TV and girlie posters. When they weren’t transplanting and trimming, they played video games and discussed their passion for cultivating pot. None of them had studied marijuana like Johnsie, but they all loved growing, seeing it not just as a hobby or a way to make a buck but as an act of compassion.

“Mostly the people that bought were older men and women, Vietnam veterans and people that’s been hurt,” Johnsie told me. “I mean, to hear them say, ‘You know, ever since I started smoking your pot, I ain’t touched a pain pill ... ” He trailed off, shaking his head, but it was clear what he meant. In a state with one of the nation’s highest rates of overdose deaths, most of them opioid-related, it felt good to give people an alternative, one that even the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said this year has never caused an overdose fatality.

Minutes after leaving the barn, Johnsie parked in the light of his own trailer, a newly remodeled 14-by-60 that he shared with his wife, Faye, and 14-year-old daughter Bethany. His phone rang. It was a neighbor from Rutherford Branch Road, where the barn stood. Cops were there, asking about him.

Inside, Johnsie dialed his mother. Two officers, she told him, were standing in her living room. She handed the phone to one of them. Though he didn’t have a search warrant for the barn, the officer said he could get one, according to Johnsie. “But,” he said, “I think it would be better if you come and talk to me first.” (This account is based largely on Johnsie’s recollection. Neither arresting officer was permitted to be interviewed for this story, but it is consistent with a description of Johnsie’s case in the 2015 West Virginia State Police Annual Report.)

Johnsie hung up. He’d placed cameras around his building and vented it out the back, but people were packed tight into that narrow hollow. It was only a matter of time before someone figured out what was inside. Turning to his wife, he said, “Look, I’m going up there, and I’m going to jail.”

With Skoal tobacco, his one chemical vice, pressed tightly against his cheek, Johnsie drove back to Rutherford Branch Road, where officers met him outside. “It’s like this. I got your dad. I got a lot of pot on him,” Senior Trooper D.L. Contos told him. This was no surprise. Sam Gooslin had smoked pot for decades, and half of Johnsie’s pot went to him. His dad relied on it to ease pain from lung cancer, a new ailment layered atop others — diabetes, a stroke, four heart attacks and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

“He’s a Vietnam veteran,” Johnsie recalls Contos saying. “I respect that. I don’t want to see a veteran go to jail. If you make me go get a search warrant, I’m taking you to jail, and I’m gonna get your dad on felony conspiracy charges because he’s taking the blame on what’s going on up there.”

Johnsie had only one option. He crossed the road and unlocked the barn, opening a series of doors to release a flood of light. The officers paused. One said he had busted hundreds of marijuana operations and had never seen anything like this. For the next two hours, Johnsie walked the officers through his process. He explained the role of the lights and hydroponics; why he placed three plants in a bucket, not one; how he used gibberellic acid to push the plants at just the right time. At the end, he recalls Contos telling him they had to seize his plants, but, referring to Johnsie’s equipment and supplies, he said, “I’m not going to take it away. One day, this might be legal.”


The Delbarton Mine, where Johnsie Gooslin worked on and off for more than a decade before his back gave out. Now his disks are a mess and he has sciatica. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
The first time Johnsie planted pot, he was 14. He stole a single seed from his father and buried it. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” he recalls. “I was just a kid being a kid.” That seed barely grew, but it did take root in a sense. Years later, while still working in the mines, he began reading about marijuana cultivation. Though he’d already learned that he couldn’t smoke it himself (every attempt made his heart race and left him paranoid), the science behind the plant, the act of nurturing it, enthralled him. After he stopped working at the mine about five years ago, and after his father gave him the barn, Johnsie tried growing marijuana again, this time treating the exercise more as a science experiment.

He was actually the third generation of Gooslins with a passion for pot. His father didn’t grow it but smoked it constantly. His grandfather, a former Kentucky constable, was just the opposite. He never used marijuana but sold it to supplement his retirement income. At one time this sort of thing wasn’t uncommon, says 1st Sgt. Michael Smith, who heads West Virginia’s drug-eradication efforts: “It was generally local individuals that would go back in the woods and, similar to the image of old-time moonshiners, they would get them a clandestine location and take care of their crops. Families would grow marijuana. ... They would hand it down.”

Reliable estimates of the size of the marijuana market in West Virginia are hard to come by. According to the group NORML, which advocates for marijuana legalization, pot has been West Virginia’s most valuable cash crop for the past 20 years.

Lately, however, marijuana has been overshadowed by opioids, which are devastating parts of coal country. In Mingo County, where Johnsie lives, a single pharmacy pumped out 9 million hydrocodone pills over just two years, according to a 2016 investigation by the Charleston Gazette-Mail. That was enough for every man, woman and child in the area to have 350 of them. Hydrocodone was part of a new generation of opioids that pharmaceutical companies introduced in the United States in the past two decades and heavily marketed to doctors as posing minimal risk for addiction. That, of course, wasn’t true, and as government officials cracked down on prescription opioids, they became prohibitively expensive, pushing addicts in West Virginia and elsewhere toward illegal substitutes, including heroin, which ran about a third the price.

The Mountain State is now ground zero of one of the worst drug crises in our nation’s history. In 2015, 725 people died of overdoses in the state, the highest rate per capita in the country. Last year, that figure grew another 15 percent, reaching a staggering 844 deaths. That averages to one West Virginian dying from an overdose every 11 hours. Eighty-six percent of the state’s overdose deaths in 2016 involved an opioid.

While there are no easy answers to the opioid crisis, a growing body of research suggests that legalizing marijuana could help. More than a dozen states with legal medical marijuana have recorded significant drops in overdose deaths from other drugs, including heroin, according to a 2014 study in JAMA: the Journal of the American Medical Association. A 2015 pilot study by Yasmin Hurd at the Behavioral Health System’s Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai found that cannabidiol, a compound in marijuana, minimized cravings for opioids, making it easier for participants to stop using them. And unlike methadone, an opioid that is used in drug treatment to minimize cravings for opioids, cannabidiol was not addictive. Hurd is pursuing further research but argues that legislators must address this epidemic now. “You can’t wait for all the ducks to be lined up,” she says. “You sometimes have to make bold steps.”

Attempts to decriminalize marijuana in West Virginia date to at least 2010, but for years no bills made it out of committee. As of 2015, the year of Johnsie’s arrest, stalwarts in the Republican-dominated legislature still could not bring themselves to legalize marijuana for medical use. But younger lawmakers would not let the issue go.

One of the leading proponents of loosening restrictions on marijuana in West Virginia is Democratic state Del. Mike Pushkin, who represents parts of Charleston and its surrounding areas. Pushkin is an unconventional pol — a cabdriver and folk musician who has spoken about his own struggles with addiction. He once told the Charleston Gazette-Mail how he spent 11 years living from crisis to crisis. “I’m sure there were times that my mother would have thought it more likely she would be attending my funeral than she would be attending my swearing-in at the Capitol,” he said.

It took a spiritual awakening to get his addiction under control. To stay sober, he told me, he volunteers at detox facilities and talks to addicts in area jails. This experience informs his policy positions. He’s sure West Virginia can’t arrest its way out of this drug crisis. And he has pushed his colleagues to consider marijuana in a new light. “While marijuana is described as a gateway drug, that’s not proven,” he says. “What is proven is that a lot of people who are prescribed painkillers get hooked on heroin.”


Gooslin in the yard where his house used to stand before it was repossessed. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
Though he spent only 14 hours in jail, Johnsie returned to his trailer a different man. The police did not confiscate his equipment, but he was still charged with a felony for cultivating marijuana. That, combined with his back problems, made it nearly impossible to find work. He was not allowed to leave the state, which meant he could not move to a place where he could grow marijuana legally.

With his $1,000 or so in monthly pot sales gone and Faye making just $9 an hour as a cashier at a gas station, cash was dwindling fast. They had begun receiving $129 in food stamps, but that didn’t help much. “Three people eats more than that in a week,” Faye says.

Johnsie’s lawyer, Wesley Kent Varney, chose for strategic reasons not to rush his case, instead engaging in a slow, courteous dialogue with Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney Teresa Maynard. He thought he could get Johnsie off on a technicality, in part because the pot the police confiscated later disappeared.

Varney told me police also found no marijuana “bricked up” for shipping, no scales, not even any large sums of money — making this a low-priority case for Maynard. Even when she proposed a plea bargain that would have put Johnsie under home arrest, Varney sat on the option, hoping to get a better deal. (Maynard declined to comment for this story.)

That approach kept Johnsie free, but his family’s losses started adding up. Debt collectors began calling. Both their cars were repossessed. “Before I was arrested,” he says, “we was both pushing an 800 credit score. Wasn’t nothing we couldn’t buy on credit at any given time. Now, I think mine is 500 and hers is like 470. Pitiful.”

About a year after his arrest, the bank came for their trailer — the nicest place Johnsie had ever lived, and just about the only home his teen daughter could remember. The family got 24 hours’ notice. Their sole option was moving to the battered trailer next door that had passed hands in Faye’s family over and over until it was empty and rusting with bent underpinnings and insulation peeking through holes in the walls.

It was raining that day, and no one could help. That left Johnsie, with his bad back, and Faye to carry their belongings through the mud. They hauled all they could but ended up leaving a lot. “We worked ourselves to death,” Faye recalls, “and we just couldn’t do it.”

She didn’t go outside when the repo guys came. Instead, she watched through a leaky aluminum-framed window as they hitched up their trailer and hauled it off. Her living-room furniture, desk and bed frame were still inside.

After that, Johnsie rarely left home. During the days, while his daughter was at school and Faye at work, he alternated between his computer chair, where he read articles about marijuana reform elsewhere (Massachusetts, Maine, California and Nevada would all legalize adult use of the drug in 2016), and the window. There, he’d chew tobacco and stare at bare soil, where their old home had rested.


Gooslin hung a giant marijuana leaf on the wall of his shed; it left a mark on the wall. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
In May 2016, Pushkin introduced a bill in the West Virginia House of Delegates to let adults grow, use and possess a limited quantity of marijuana, provided that they paid a one-time fee of $500. That month, he told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he didn’t have high hopes for its passage. He was right: It wasn’t even debated in a committee. But it did spark media attention and prompted an eye-opening brief from the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy, which showed that a marijuana tax could be a boon for the state, generating as much as $194 million annually if the drug were legal for adult use. That would be enough to eliminate West Virginia’s projected deficit and create a $183 million surplus, a dramatic improvement in a place that’s been slashing everything from higher education to Medicaid as it tries to stay afloat.

Indeed, Pushkin’s argument for marijuana legalization had a strong economic component. “They’re not having the types of budget issues in Colorado that we’re having here,” he told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. In Colorado, where pot is now fully legalized, the industry created 18,000 full-time jobs in 2015 alone. New Frontier Data, a financial consultancy in Washington, estimates that by 2020 the marijuana industry will create upward of a quarter of a million jobs in the United States, more than manufacturing is expected to create.

It’s hard to imagine anywhere that could use these jobs more than West Virginia. Since the 1980s, both coal and manufacturing in the Mountain State have been in a steep decline. As these industries have dried up, so have others that rely on them — such as freight rail, which has cut jobs by the thousands and begun pulling up tracks.

Smart leaders would have diversified their economy decades ago, but that didn’t happen here. “We’ve been relying on the extraction industries for far too long,” Pushkin told me, noting that West Virginia is not just experiencing a budget crisis or even a drug crisis. The state’s population is shrinking; many who stay are depressed by their prospects and taking poor care of themselves. A National Bureau of Economic Research paper published in February found a positive correlation between a county’s unemployment rate and its opioid overdose death rate. And a link between unemployment and drug use was also confirmed by a meta-analysis of 28 studies, including 10 done in the United States, that appeared in the June issue of the International Journal of Drug Policy. Diabetes rates exceed 150 percent of the U.S. average in some parts of West Virginia, and obesity is just as severe. Pushkin sees the opioid crisis as more of a symptom of the underlying economic one. “When you see countries that are based on one industry, those are mainly Third World countries,” he says. “We’re really like a Third World country inside the United States.”


Gooslin is greeted by one of his bassett hounds at his front door. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
In his rundown trailer, with no end to his legal limbo in sight, Johnsie soon faced another setback. His father had begun having seizures. They became so routine that Johnsie was not alarmed when, on June 24, 2016, he got a call informing him that Sam Gooslin was bound for the hospital. But this time, when Johnsie arrived and said his name at the nurse’s station, a chaplain approached. “I knew then it wasn’t good,” he recalls. No one was sure, but they thought his father might have had another stroke. This one was just too big.

As the two-year anniversary of his arrest approached, Johnsie found himself without his father, unable to pursue his passion and flat broke. He grew more reclusive and stopped having people over because he was ashamed of where he lived. “Gained 20 pounds,” he says. “Just sitting and waiting on death.”

But just as he began to feel like he was fighting a losing battle, Maynard, who had lost her reelection bid, decided to step down early. The incoming county prosecuting attorney, Jonathan Jewell, was inheriting a mound of cases. Varney was quick to point out a case that the new prosecutor could settle fast — one where the defendant, Johnsie, had kept his nose clean for two years while on bond. This was a gift to Jewell, who scheduled a hearing for Jan. 31. (Jewell did not respond to requests for comment.)

For several nights prior, Johnsie lay awake, thinking about all that had happened. Beside his sleeping wife, with his daughter just a thin, splintered wall away, he tried to picture their future. He couldn’t work coal, not with his back like it was, or even stand at a register all day. That and growing marijuana was about all he was qualified to do.

He could probably get a job at a legal growhouse in California. He knew somebody who knew somebody who owned one. But Johnsie was a good-old-boy conservative. He supported Trump and pokes fun at liberals. He loves guns and four-wheeling. “I just don’t know if I can handle California,” he once told me. Plus, how could he uproot Bethany while she was doing so well in school — taking advanced placement classes? He wouldn’t dare do anything to upset her future.

The morning of his hearing, Johnsie rose bleary-eyed and, with Faye, drove under a bright winter sky. The 20-minute ride was quiet. They didn’t know what to expect at the Mingo County Courthouse. Inside, things moved fast. Each lawyer said a few words, and within 10 minutes, West Virginia Circuit Court Judge Miki J. Thompson dismissed the case without prejudice. For the first time in two years, Johnsie was truly free. He and Faye drove back to their side of the county and, at the gas station where she worked, celebrated with ice cream cones.

Meanwhile in Charleston, Pushkin and like-minded lawmakers saw an opening to try again for legalization. In late 2016, both gubernatorial candidates had publicly supported legalizing medical marijuana. And some of their colleagues were showing a new openness to it. In February, he backed legislation focusing on medical marijuana. While it met with familiar opposition in the House of Delegates, a similar bill wove through the state Senate with bipartisan support. This forced the House speaker and other old-guard Republicans to soften their stance. The bill not only made it out of committee, it was debated on the House floor — and an amended version passed.

The bill permits patients to use pot derivatives, such as oils and pills, but prohibits smoking the plant or growing it at home. Just 10 growers will be authorized statewide, and the price to play will be steep — a $50,000 registration fee. On April 19, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (D) signed it into law.

Many lawmakers who voted for the bill were reacting to public pressure and media scrutiny. And although the law passed, there is no certainty that the trend toward loosening restrictions on marijuana will continue. “Close to half the people who voted for that [legislation] are against medical cannabis,” Pushkin told me, “but we got something on the books. I do believe we can fix it.” A bill he introduced to tax medical marijuana is in committee. Beyond that, Pushkin admits, he is still figuring out what to do next.


Gooslin listens to his attorney in his Pikeville, Ky., office in March. His case was dismissed without prejudice in January. (Sarah L. Voisin/The Washington Post)
Johnsie doesn’t like coffee. Rather than order anything at the coffee shop where he and I are meeting Pushkin on a Friday in May, he waits at an empty table, nervous and fidgeting. I get hot tea, and we talk about how unlikely this sit-down is. With his background, Johnsie never imagined he’d talk to a man who could help undo laws that ruined his life. But when I told Pushkin about Johnsie weeks before and asked if they could meet, the delegate said yes.

Coming off an 11-hour shift of cab driving, one that took him clear to Ohio and back, Pushkin walks in while wiping rainwater from his shirt. Both men wear jeans. Pushkin’s jeans have a hole over the left pocket. Johnsie’s are paired with a button-down for the occasion. Though neither looks their part — a West Virginia delegate and a former pot grower — they somehow appear to belong at the same table.

With a handshake and a nod, they begin a slow discourse on the new marijuana law. Johnsie may have found a financial backer, a Michigan businessman who visits Mingo County’s ATV trail a few times a year, but breaking into legal marijuana production would be much easier if the fee were lower. He references a provision that’s popular in other states, one that assigns “caregivers” to patients. These licensed professionals help people get and use their marijuana. They can even grow it for them. By his own admission, Pushkin doesn’t know a lot about the provision, but he’s always looking for new ideas. “I wouldn’t mind going back and trying to get that in,” he later tells me, showing the kind of openness that defines his vision for West Virginia.

Pushkin still sees tremendous potential in his home state. Charleston, for instance, has the kind of “cultural capital” that attracts newer industries — prewar buildings galore, gritty warehouses begging to become lofts, and indie businesses that include a sprawling bookstore-cafe-gallery and a new art-house cinema. In many ways, it resembles Pittsburgh or Asheville, N.C., before those cities became hipster meccas, and Pushkin looks to those places as models. Legalizing recreational use of marijuana could be another asset, a way to boost tourism and retain young people. “I want to fight to make it the kind of state friends want to move back to,” he later says. “I want to help make this a cool place again.”

The scruffy delegate pauses to sip his coffee, and Johnsie fiddles with his phone. Quiet passes between them until Johnsie begins to talk about his passion for marijuana. “I’d fall asleep at night studying,” he says, “with the laptop still on.” He describes the intricacies of growing, his hydroponic technique, how he kept his plants budding.

Pushkin looks down. When he first learned about Johnsie, he said, “I’m sorry that this prohibition has turned somebody who was just trying to help their father into a criminal.”

Sitting across from this man who lost everything, who had been stripped of his home and livelihood, who is no longer permitted to pursue his passion, Pushkin grips his mug. “This is the kind of story that needs to be told in the statehouse,” he says and shakes his head.

The two talk a few minutes more until Pushkin’s coffee is gone. He stands up and — though many politicians wouldn’t have even entertained a conversation with a former marijuana grower — he extends his hand. “I’m going to give you my number,” he says, looking Johnsie in the eye. “Call anytime you need help.”

After they part, Johnsie and I go for pizza; then he drives an hour in the rain, back to Mingo County, where he and Faye have been keeping their expenses low. She has saved just enough to buy a used car. He now drives a 17-year-old truck inherited from an uncle and spends his days making low-cost improvements to his trailer.

While hanging drywall one day to cover torn wallpaper and exposed wires, he deliberates on his future. He still hates the idea of moving to another state. West Virginia gets ahold of you, he once told me, and won’t let go.

Maybe he can get one of those 10 marijuana-farm licenses. Maybe the legislature will make it easier for regular people to take part in this new industry. He’s not sure how exactly, but he’s determined to grow his “babies” again.

He beams at the thought. “Hook the water and electricity up, and I’d have seeds in the cups tonight,” he muses and spits chewing tobacco into an empty bottle. “I’m ready to go anytime, when the law says you can do it.”
Wow.... @Baron23 the above story really is a sad one. And the worst is that this is not the only life that has been ruined in this way. Our prisons are filled with people who are there for growing or distributing cannabis.

A plant. A plant that can possibly cure multiple diseases, and is safer than alcohol and cigarettes; which are both legal. :disgust:
Wow.... @Baron23 the above story really is a sad one. And the worst is that this is not the only life that has been ruined in this way. Our prisons are filled with people who are there for growing or distributing cannabis.

A plant. A plant that can possibly cure multiple diseases, and is safer than alcohol and cigarettes; which are both legal. :disgust:
I can't agree more. I read that article and frankly my heart went out to this guy and his family. I know some folks from W. VA. Its tough making a living in much of the state. Combine that with this guy supporting his father, etc, etc, etc and its just a shame what has happened to this guy as a result of our asinine prohibitory laws.

I think one of the saddest things is this guy contemplating getting a grower's license. I don't care if he comes up with the $50k from a backer, he just doesn't have a chance against corporate bidders, their proposal writers, and their lawyers.

I would love to see this guy as a caregiver but W VA don't have caregivers. He strikes me as perfect for the role.

And fuck Sessions....this guy is a "good person"
"The law states that no patient or caregiver ID cards will be issued until July 2019." Why's that? Do they think that chemo patients need to suffer for another fucking two years? :rant::BangHead::lunchacos:

West Virginia Medical Marijuana Program Board Set to Meet

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — A board that will help develop a medical marijuana program in West Virginia is holding its first meeting.

The advisory board is set to meet Wednesday at the University of Charleston. Among the topics for discussion is a work plan for the program’s first year. The meeting is open to the public and will include a comment period.

Gov. Jim Justice signed a law April 19 making West Virginia the 29th state to allow the use of marijuana for certain medical conditions.

The law permits doctors to recommend marijuana be used for medicinal purposes and establishes a regulatory system. The law states that no patient or caregiver ID cards will be issued until July 2019.
Apparently, CBD only

West Virginia's first cannabis store opens in Cross Lanes

CHARLESTON, WV (WCHS/WVAH) — The first store selling medical cannabis is opened in Kanawha County.

The products come in several different forms, from gummies and capsules to lotions.

Wendy Newman suffers from Fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and anxiety.

"A lot of times I don't even want to get out of the house because I just cringe,” Newman said,

The one thing she has found that eases her symptoms is cannabis from hemp.

"It has been helping me tremendously,” Newman said.

With the opening of Appalachian Cannabis Company on Saturday, she now has a place to get the CBD products that work for her. CBD stands for cannabidiol and unlike cannabis products that contain THC there is no high, and unlike opioids it is non-addictive.

"I don't like the THC high, so I am so ecstatic with the hemp oil and the CBD because I don't have to worry about getting a fuzzy head,” Newman said.

Those characteristics are a focus for owner Chris Yeager.

"We want to be able to provide a non-psycho, non-addictive product, and we're able to do that with CBD,” Yeager said.

Yeager spent a few years in Colorado learning the ins and outs of the cannabis industry with the goal of bringing it to his home state.

"We wanted to bring the knowledge, we wanted to bring the experience and we want to spearhead this industry for the state of West Virginia,” Yeager said.

Yeager says with medical cannabis now being legalized in West Virginia, many might not understand its purpose but encourages anyone with questions to come to the store.

"Don't just sit by and not get the information, because it's out there and we do want to act as a resource to anybody in the community that wants to come out and gain the knowledge about this industry and about this plant,” Yeager said.
"We want to be able to provide a non-psycho, non-addictive product, and we're able to do that with CBD,” Yeager said.
I dunno.... this seems to imply that the products with THC are addictive. :hmm: And for someone who......

Yeager spent a few years in Colorado learning the ins and outs of the cannabis industry with the goal of bringing it to his home state.

"We wanted to bring the knowledge, we wanted to bring the experience and we want to spearhead this industry for the state of West Virginia,” Yeager said.
Seems like he missed some knowledge himself. If he plans to be the 'voice' of people understanding the purpose of cannabis, it would seem to me that he should broaden his horizons. :twocents:
I dunno.... this seems to imply that the products with THC are addictive. :hmm: And for someone who......

Seems like he missed some knowledge himself. If he plans to be the 'voice' of people understanding the purpose of cannabis, it would seem to me that he should broaden his horizons. :twocents:
I don't necessarily think that "non-addictive" was in comparison to MJ, but simply that CBD is a non-addictive solution for many versus pharma. Hard to tell.
"may allow"

Really, what ever happened to individual liberty and personal responsibility in this country. Fuck needing self-serving politicians permission for personal activity that does no harm to others. We are on the wrong track, I believe.

West Virginia may allow patients to smoke medical marijuana
State Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta said people can burn marijuana themselves if they want, "but that's not what we're advocating or recommending."

By The Associated Press

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia’s medical marijuana board will recommend that state lawmakers allow patients who meet certain requirements to buy smokable forms of the drug.

The board met Tuesday afternoon and also plans to recommend that legislators increase or remove a cap on the number of growers, processors and dispensaries in the state, and allow a company to serve more than one of those roles — meaning a grower could also be a processor — the Charleston-Gazette-Mail reported.

The board did not approve adding any conditions to the list of conditions patients must be diagnosed with before doctors can recommend medical marijuana. In addition to limiting marijuana use to people with listed conditions, state law allows patients to start receiving medical marijuana ID cards in July 2019 but prohibits them from growing and smoking their own marijuana. It also sets fees for companies to get involved and limits the numbers of growers and processors to 10 each, and dispensaries to 30.

Related: What West Virginia’s medical cannabis program looks like so far

State Health Officer Dr. Rahul Gupta said people can burn marijuana themselves if they want, “but that’s not what we’re advocating or recommending.”

The state Health and Human Resources Department plans to release a full list of recommendations. They will be presented to lawmakers, who are in session, within days, Gupta said.

West Virginia US attorney vows to 'aggressively' enforce federal marijuana laws

U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart of West Virginia, a Trump appointee who took office in January, didn’t spend much time in his new position before stirring up some controversy.

Last week, Stuart tweeted about the “gateway theory,” a continuously debunked theory that marijuana leads to the use of harder, dangerous drugs. In the same tweet, Stuart promised to “AGGRESSIVELY” enforce federal marijuana laws.

While U.S. Attorney Stuart, of course, gets to have his own opinions regarding cannabis, he doesn’t get to have his own facts. His tweet collides head-on with much of what scientists have learned about the herb.

“Scientists long ago abandoned the idea that marijuana causes users to try other drugs,” TIME reports. “Since then, numerous other studies have failed to support the gateway idea.”


For decades, the gateway theory was a leading argument for prohibition. But now, DARE, the group which notoriously misinformed children about the risks of marijuana in the 80s and 90s, admits that the overwhelming majority of people who smoke pot never graduate to hard drugs.

Last year, the Drug Enforcement Administration also quietly removed a report on the gateway theory from its website.

“These myths have been at the heart of positions held by marijuana prohibitionists and often served as their platform when voting against medical cannabis legislation,” wrote American for Safe Access founder Steph Sherer at the time.

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences reported to Congress on the alleged dangers of medical marijuana. The Institute’s report flatly stated, “there is no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs.”


Recently, attempts by anti-cannabis folks to bring the moribund gateway theory back to life have surfaced. U.S. Attorney Stuart’s tweet can properly be seen as part of that unfortunate trend.

Ironically, substance abuse researchers are finding that cannabis, in many cases, holds promise for helping addicts recover. A study, recently released by the RAND Corporation, found that people living in states with easy access to marijuana are less likely to overdose from opioids.

The results affirm the promise of cannabis as a potential solution for the opioid crisis, which is now considered the largest drug epidemic in American history. According to the Centers for Disease Control, as of 2016, West Virginia had the highest drug overdose rate in the U.S.
"With West Virginia’s medical cannabis law currently only allowing oils, creams and other non-smokable forms of the plant"

Another non-program intended to cover politician's asses while ill serving actual patients. Hope these mofo burn in hell.

West Virginia Officials say it will take years for medical cannabis sales

Despite legislation from 2017 that allowed cannabis to be legal for medical use on July 1 of this year, West Virginia officials say they’re still years away from the first sale. That’s — at least in part — because of a hangup with finding a banking solution to get around federal law. State health officials say they also have to implement permitting and licensing for patients and those who want to start businesses within the industry.

Late last month, the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office released a statement indicating that they were canceling and then reissuing a request for proposals for a depository associated with the medical cannabis program. An initial bid returned five applications, but none of the prospective banking vendors met all of the requirements.

Officials from the Treasurer’s Office say they are now in a blackout period and cannot comment on the bidding process until a banking vendor has been selected.

Del. Mike Pushkin, a Democrat from Kanawha County who has championed the legalization of cannabis, says the banking solution — which was spurred along through legislation that cleared in May — should push back the timeline another few months.

“It’s not such a big deal. These things happen a lot when we’re bidding out to vendors in state government — that people don’t meet all of the mandatory requirements of that bid. It’s not uncommon,” Pushkin said. “What’s uncommon is that it’s a bid that we’re watching so closely.”

DHHR Says First Medical Cannabis Sale Still Two Years Away
But even if a banking vendor is awarded a contract in the next few months, officials from the state Department of Health and Human Resources say it could still be some time before cannabis is sold to patients.

“So, the Office of Medical Cannabis, or the OMC, continues to have a goal of two years from the time a banking solution is in place for patients with a serious medical condition to be able to obtain medical cannabis,” Office of Medical Cannabis director Jason Frame said.

Frame also points out that July 1 wasn’t a deadline or mandatory “go live” date for medical cannabis in West Virginia, but rather a statutory marker that opened the door for the program. He also said DHHR has its own work to get the program off the ground.

“We’re going to have a web-based permitting system,” Frame said. “We’re in contract right now, for the design of that system. We’re hiring staff, we’re implementing policy and procedures and designing those procedures.”

Frame also said there’s other work to do to get products in the hands of patients.

“Industry is going to be built out. Physical buildings are going to be put in place. Of course, crops will have to be grown,” he said.

With West Virginia’s medical cannabis law currently only allowing oils, creams and other non-smokable forms of the plant, Frame said it will take some time to process the active ingredients to be consumed within the scope of the law.

“They’ll have to be then processed into sellable products,” Frame said. “Patients won’t be able to buy the leaf form a medical cannabis — that’s part of the Act. So everything that’s grown will be processed into a sellable product.”

—Cannabis Advocates Question the Program

But some advocates for the program say West Virginia’s medical cannabis law is weak.

Rusty Williams is the patient advocate on the program’s advisory board. The group — made up of health officials, law enforcement and others — reports recommendations to the Legislature and Governor’s office.

Williams has a personal connection to his role on the advisory board. After being diagnosed with testicular cancer, he sought out medical cannabis as medicine for pain relief.

“We were tasked to look at whether or not to add conditions — add or remove conditions — to the accepted conditions list. We were charged with looking at whether or not to allow patients to be able to access whole plant flower,” Williams said of the medical cannabis advisory board. “And we were tasked with whether or not to allow businesses to vertically integrate. We met those charges two years early.”

As Williams points out, the only recommendation that has been codified by lawmakers has been the vertical integration provision, which allows a single business to act as a grower, a processor and a distributor. An earlier version of the law would have limited that type of operation within the industry.

But, Williams says small improvements to a fundamentally flawed program haven’t been enough.

While he’s called for patients to be able to grow cannabis at home and use it how they see fit, he’s frustrated that what West Virginia law does allow hasn’t yet come to fruition.

“Why our lawmakers chose to go the route of, you know, processed pharmaceutical versions of cannabis? I have no idea. I can’t answer that,” he said. “It makes no sense to me, especially with the problems that we do have here with pharmaceuticals.”

—Legalization’s Vocal Opponent in West Virginia

Williams has also been bothered by what he considers obstructionist rhetoric from one of West Virginia’s federal prosecutors.

“It’s frustrating to know that there’s only one state in the country where we have a federal prosecuting attorney actively going after the cannabis industry,” he said.

Williams is referring to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Mike Stuart.

The Trump-appointed prosecutor has been a vocal opponent of the legalization of cannabis, arguing that research is unclear on the drug’s potential benefits and drawbacks in a medical or recreational setting. But Stuart says he doesn’t make the law, he simply enforces it.

“I think, on this whole issue of marijuana, it’s pretty clear this is an issue of public policy that’s going to be solved by public officials — whether that’s Congress or other folks who have the authority to do that. My job as a US attorney is to enforce federal law,” Stuart said.

But last month, the U.S. House of Representatives adopted an amendment to a federal appropriations bill that would prohibit the Department of Justice from interfering with state cannabis programs. The bill still needs to clear the Senate, but since December 2014 Congress has blocked the Justice Department from targeting businesses and individuals in states where cannabis is legal.

Still yet, Stuart says he will look at things on a case by case basis and would prosecute as necessary.

“It’s not as simple as saying ‘Because it’s related to medicinal marijuana, there’s no enforcement, prescription pharmaceuticals are legal,'” Stuart said.

“Oxycontin under the right circumstances is illegal. It is legal — however, if there is a pharmacist or a doctor that is misprescribing those drugs in a way that is not medically necessary or medically ethical, we prosecute those folks all the time. So, there’s no area of the law that says that there won’t be enforcement when there are abuses,” he added.

DHHR, Treasurer’s Office Move Forward, But Advocates Want Quicker Rollout
Regardless of Stuart saying he will keep a close eye on the rollout of the medical cannabis program, the state Treasure and the DHHR appear to be moving forward. Pushkin, though, says he hopes health officials get to work quickly in terms of permitting and licensing.

“I don’t understand why they would have to wait for the banking program to be in place for them to at least put out the applications, start issuing cards to patients,” Pushkin said. “We put something in that bill that would allow for reciprocity for patients — foreseeing that there could be some hiccups along the way.”

For now, patients here can legally acquire medical cannabis in other states — but only the acceptable forms under the West Virginia law.

Frame and others at DHHR say they are working diligently to get their processes in place for those who want to enter the industry or use cannabis for medical purposes without traveling out of state.

“We are definitely sympathetic to their concerns. And we appreciate the support from the governor’s office — and also the hard work that’s been done in the legislature to put a workable form of the medical cannabis act out there,” Frame said. “However, it is complicated. There’s a lot of provisions and a lot of complications that go along with that process. But everyone involved has been working hard to roll out products as soon as possible.”

The state Treasurer’s office says they have shortened the bidding timeline for potential banking vendors from six weeks to four and a half weeks to expedite the process.
And this is what citizens of W VA, one of the major centers of opioid addiction and death, get from their (expletive deleted) politicians. Truly sad.

Medical cannabis sales in West Virginia delayed another year

Medical marijuana companies in West Virginia, which has one of the slowest-launching programs in the cannabis industry, will have to wait at least another year before beginning sales.

Bill Crouch, cabinet secretary of the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources, said the agency is “looking at making the product available in the spring of 2021,” according to WVNews.

Marijuana Business Daily previously projected sales would start sometime in 2020 in West Virginia, which passed medical cannabis legislation in April 2017.

But bureaucratic holdups have mired the program in red tape.

Reviews have been completed for applicants seeking business licenses to grow and process marijuana. There’s now a 30-day period for applicants to provide any supplemental materials and answer questions from state regulators.

Dispensaries are still under review, but doctors interested in recommending medical marijuana to patients can begin registering on May 28.
I hesitate to post any articles about W VA's MMJ program as it sucks, they are slow rolling it as much as possible, and I don't want to offer any cover or credibility to W VA politicians for this empty suit of a program.

West Virginia To Revisit Medical Cannabis Lab Applications

Monday, June 29, West Virginia officially announced the plan to reopen their application process for medical cannabis testing labs so that more labs can get registered and their medical cannabis testing program can get off the ground.

“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,” their press release explains about the new change and what to expect. “Laboratory permits are not limited in number and the application process will remain open indefinitely.”

As of now, the state will be accepting applications for an undefined amount of time, and there is no cap on the amount of licenses they will offer. It is not clear if there will eventually be a cap, but the problem currently is not too many applicants, but rather a lack thereof.

“This is a key step in the process to make medical cannabis available to West Virginians with serious medical conditions,” said Jason Frame, Director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, when questioned about the new program. “We and many others continue to work toward a goal of providing eligible West Virginia residents the ability to procure quality-tested medical cannabis.”

Originally, the application process was open for two months, ending February 18 of this year. West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports that during that time, only one business applied for a license, so the process had to be reopened.

Round Two of Applications
This process looks similar to what was released during the first round of applications back in February: the application will be reviewed and will include a background check for all interested parties. A scoring team will then consider the applications and look at recommendations and best practices for issuing permits to the labs that applied.

Labs are necessary in the state so that cannabis can be tested for quality control and potency. Although West Virginia passed the Medical Cannabis Act in April of 2017, they fell short of their goal to make cannabis available to patients within two years. They are hoping to have their program fully up and running by spring of 2021.
Starting this past May 28, physicians are now able to register to treat patients and prescribe medical cannabis. There’s no data yet on who signed up for this, but any doctors who do have to complete a program called the West Virginia Medical cannabis Program and pay a $189 fee.

Patients who want access to medical cannabis will need to apply for medical cannabis cards, like in many other legal states, and they will have to have a qualified medical cannabis-treatable condition as approved by the Medical Cannabis Act.

For more information on applying to be a testing lab, visit medcanwv.org and apply online.

West Virginia Governor’s Stance Against Adult-Use Marijuana ‘Weakening’

Governor Jim Justice is still not totally sold on the idea, though.

Republican Gov. Jim Justice of West Virginia indicated at a virtual town hall meeting on Tuesday that he is open to relaxing his position against legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in the state. Justice made the comments during an online meeting with voters as he promoted his proposal to eliminate the state’s personal income tax.

During the town hall, Justice was asked by an attendee if he supported fully legalizing and taxing marijuana in West Virginia as a way to create a new source of revenue.

“I don’t,” Justice said, quickly adding, “but I am weakening on that position.”

The governor went on to say that he has heard from respected sources that there are social benefits to legalizing cannabis for use by adults, saying “the medical community tells me the legalizing of marijuana from a recreational standpoint has lowered their drug problems.”

He also noted that while he has not yet acquired all of the information necessary to change his personal opinion on the legalization of recreational marijuana, he acknowledged that reform appears inevitable. He also indicated that he would consent if the state legislature takes the lead on the issue.

“I’m not educated enough to make a really good assessment as of yet, but I do believe that wave is coming across all our states,” he continued. “If our House and Senate gets behind that effort and legalizes marijuana, I would too.”

Republicans Lead Drive To Nix State Income Tax

Justice and Republican lawmakers are in the process of weighing options to implement a proposal to eliminate the state’s tax on personal income, which would result in an estimated $2 billion per year loss in revenue. A mix of cuts to government services, increases on other taxes, and sources of new funding are all under consideration to make up the difference.

Early last month, House Majority Whip Paul Espinosa sent an informal poll to his Republican colleagues in the legislature to gauge their support on a variety of proposals to compensate for the resulting budget shortfall. Lawmakers were asked to consider a list of a dozen options including cuts to higher education and social programs, raising the state’s sales tax, new taxes on professional services, and raising new revenue by legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana.

Espinosa said any suggestion that the proposals made in the poll are already included in a final plan are “ludicrous.”

“Generally speaking, we routinely reach out to our members to gauge their perspective on various issues or even components of issues to gauge whether they’re components of legislation they can support or, just as importantly, if not more importantly, which components are non-starters,” Espinosa said. “Frankly, we even sometimes ask our members questions when we have a sense that it may be a non-starter or may not have much support just to confirm that.”

“I think it’s fair to say … some of those are non-starters.”

West Virginia currently has a limited medical marijuana program. If the state legalizes recreational cannabis, it would join a growing trend in the region. Lawmakers in neighboring Virginia approved the legalization of marijuana for adult use last weekend, and legislation is also under consideration in Maryland.

West Virginia’s long-delayed medical marijuana market poised to launch​

By Jeff Smith, Legal & Regulatory Reporter
November 11, 2021

A chart showing the projected MMJ sales in West Virginia.

West Virginia’s potential $40 million medical marijuana program finally is set to launch Friday with the opening of the state’s first dispensary by multistate giant Trulieve Cannabis.
The start of medical marijuana sales comes a whopping four years and seven months after West Virginia approved a law permitting the cultivation and sale of MMJ.
“West Virginia holds the unfortunate record for the slowest state to implement medical cannabis access,” Karen O’Keefe, Marijuana Policy Project’s state policies director, wrote in an email to MJBizDaily.
“Many patients have surely died waiting.”
Delaware held the previous record at four years and one month, according to MPP.
In West Virginia, state officials blamed the slow rollout on a struggle to provide banking services for the program.
MPP also noted that a U.S. prosecutor in the state “exacerbated the problem by threatening to prosecute businesses that enter the medical cannabis space.”
But the tide appears to have turned.
Florida-based Trulieve said it will open a dispensary in Morgantown on Friday and a second in Weston on Nov. 15.
Other businesses are expected to follow in the coming weeks, but overall, the rollout is expected to be gradual.
A limited market
Revised MJBizFactbook projections put 2021 sales at only $400,000 to $500,000, rising to as much as $6 million in 2022 and up to $40 million annually by 2025.
Among the factors expected to restrict sales: West Virginia has banned smokable flower and edibles, which are leading sales generators in other MMJ markets across the country.
But what really makes the market limited is that the state has a population of only 1.8 million, West Virginia cannabis attorney Floyd “Kin” Sayre III said.
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He noted that only 4,400 patients are registered so far, and yet 100 dispensaries were licensed, as were 10 cultivators and 10 processors.
“That’s not a lot of customers (per store),” he said, although the patient numbers are expected to grow over time.
Sayre, a partner in the Charleston-based law firm Bowles Rice, said he has several clients who won licenses, most of them dispensaries.
“A lot of these people are looking at this more as long term,” he said, noting that operators are betting that West Virginia eventually will allow smokable flower and recreational marijuana.
Consolidation expected
Sayre said some of his clients already have received offers to buy their licenses.
He added that operators are allowed up to 10 dispensary permits, and he sees consolidation as companies try to maximize their footprint.
To an extent, that happened in the initial round of licensing, with a number of West Virginia businesses and MSOs each winning four to 10 dispensaries.
In all, 100 permits went to 26 different entities.
“There’s still quite a few independent dispensaries, but I have the feeling that when the market starts to grow, you’ll see more consolidation,” Sayre said.
Trulieve is an example of that.
The Florida-based company won four dispensary permits and a processing license but lost out on one of the 10 cultivation permits.
So, in May, Trulieve proceeded to buy a cultivation license – and two dispensary permits – for only $6 million in cash and stock.
And that came only a month after the company added three dispensary permits for $650,000.
Trulieve quickly broke ground on a 100,000-square-foot cultivation facility and now is poised to be first to market, with others soon to follow.
In a news release, CEO Kim Rivers said Trulieve “is especially eager to leverage our first-mover advantage.”
It’s a playbook the company has used before.
Trulieve’s head start in Florida helped the company claim the top spot in that state’s huge medical marijuana market, but it remains to be seen how that works in the much smaller West Virginia program.
Multiple big players
New York-based Columbia Care, Illinois-headquartered Verano Holdings, Massachusetts-based Holistic Industries and Maryland-headquartered Harvest Care Medical (no relation to MSO Harvest Health & Recreation) each won cultivation, processing and dispensary permits.
Harvest Care and Holistic won the maximum 10 dispensary permits, Verano seven and Columbia Care five.
Columbia Care started building its cultivation facility in July.
Holistic raised $55 million in May partly for West Virginia.
And Harvest Care’s cultivation facility in West Virginia has been under construction.
MPP’s O’Keefe sees parallels between West Virginia and the neighboring Pennsylvania MMJ market.
Both states initially banned smokable flower and edibles, although each has since amended its laws to allow raw flower for vaporization, she noted.
O’Keefe wrote that she anticipates West Virginia’s market will be similar to Pennsylvania’s – “except scaled to a much smaller population.”
Jeff Smith can be reached at jeff.smith@mjbizdaily.com.

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