HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) – The first medical cannabis dispensary opened in Mountain State in Morgantown on Friday. Another is due to open on Monday in Weston.
Still, West Virginia is one of the states that has been slowest to get its medical cannabis program underway since it passed law more than four years ago.
In April 2017, West Virginia became the 29th state to legalize medical marijuana, but the process has slowly moved on since then.
“We want to make a difference and believe we can make a positive difference,” said Bill Shapiro, TerraLeaf’s vice president of supply chain and facilities. “We want to help people and that is our mission.”
The TerraLeaf pharmacy is slated to open in Huntington in early December, when owner Chris Visco can get his hands on local products. She says local growers don’t sell to other pharmacies because they have multiple permits themselves.
“They over-licensed the state,” she said. Visco owns several pharmacies in Pennsylvania and has been frustrated with the amount of time, money, and energy she has invested in West Virginia, but does not see much help and support from the state to make this new program successful. She tells WSAZ that she remains hopeful, but what is most concerned about is patients waiting to buy medical cannabis.
“They waited four years and now there is a product, but it won’t be available to them,” she said.
The Office of Medical Cannabis says it has received 4,346 patient applications and 3,206 approved to date. The examination of the applications takes about 30 to 90 days.
The state issued 10 producer permits, 10 processing permits and 100 permits to pharmacies. There are currently only three breeders in operation. According to OMC, anyone who does not make steady progress towards operational status can face penalties up to and including revocation of the permit.
The plants take several months to mature, so once the seeds are in the ground it will be some time before growers can harvest their crops and turn the plants into products.
Shapiro says he’s eager to get her office up and running and to help others.
“We’re right at the front,” he said. “We believe in it. We are advocates, we want everyone to feel better. We want to heal the world. “
We requested an interview with the Director of the Office of Medical Cannabis, Jason Frame, but the interview was canceled and not postponed.
WSAZ asked OMC about the number of permits issued compared to other states. Ohio, which has eleven times the population, has only issued 58 pharmacy permits, and approvals are based on the number of patients per district. The Ohio program is to be expanded to include a further 70 pharmacies in the coming months. They replied with the words:
“The OMC considered many factors in issuing permits for pharmacies. One factor that weighed heavily and is always a major concern is patient access to pharmacies. Due to the difficult geographical location and the lack of public transport within the WV, a wide distribution of pharmacies is favorable. According to the method that is ultimately used for issuing pharmacy permits, in almost all cases patients would have to travel to the neighboring district at most in order to gain access to a pharmacy. “
To apply for and be eligible for the program, patients must be diagnosed with one of sixteen serious medical conditions:
- Position status for Human Immunodeficiency Virus or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
- Damage to the nerve tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological evidence of persistent spasticity
- Huntington’s Disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Persistent seizures
- Sickle cell anemia
- Severe chronic or persistent pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or persistent pain
- Incurable disease, which is defined as the medical prognosis of a life expectancy of about a year or less with a normal course of the disease
For a list of pharmacy license holders, click here.
Cannabis can be bought in a pill; Oil; topical forms including gels, creams, or ointments; a medically acceptable form for administration by vaporization or misting, dry leaf or plant form; Tincture; fluid; or skin patches.
To contact the office:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 304-356-5090
- Fax: 304-558-0035
The next virtual meeting of the Medical Cannabis Bureau Advisory Committee will be held on December 16 at 12:00 noon
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