It has been a slow road to legalization in West Virginia. Although medical marijuana bills were introduced in the state each year between 2010 and 2015, there were enough opponents to prevent any bill from passing into law. Finally, the resistance was broken in 2017 when Senate Bill 386 was signed into law on April 19. It legalized weed for specific medical conditions, and it is supposed to go into effect in July 2019.
Of course, in politics, and especially when it comes to medical cannabis, nothing is ever that straightforward. There were fears of a delay because banks were worried about being charged with violating federal drug and banking laws. It was an issue that remained unresolved as at March 2019, when the legislative session ended.
Without a process for the relevant departments to accept and disperse funds relating to applications for permits, and fees associated with implementing the act, the original timelines for rolling out the program can no longer be met. In any case, we outline how you can get an MMJ card in West Virginia once the option becomes available.
The Definitive Guide on How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in West Virginia
Initially, it was hoped that qualified patients would be able to register with the West Virginia medical cannabis program by July 1, 2019, but that now looks like a long shot. When the program begins accepting patients, here is what the process will probably look like. First and foremost, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a qualifying medical condition. We will show you the list of conditions in the next section.
If you are under the age of 18, you need an authorized caregiver to avail of the program.
Step 1 – Register with the Bureau
If you believe you have a qualifying medical condition, you will need to register with the state Bureau of Public Health which is under the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Commission. You need to have a legitimate doctor-patient relationship for at least six months before you can ask the doctor for a recommendation.
Step 2 – Obtain a Physician’s Certification
You will need to use a doctor that has registered with the Bureau and has completed the mandatory four-hour course. If your regular physician does not get involved, you will need to find a doctor that is certified and wait six months before you can get a certification.
The doctor will conduct a thorough assessment of your medical history and complete a physical examination to prove you have a condition that qualifies you for an MMJ card in West Virginia.
Expect all physicians to take the issue seriously because if they knowingly certify any individual who does not qualify, they face a felony charge and could spend six months in prison.
Step 3 – Apply for a Medical Cannabis ID
Once the doctor approves you, it is time to send in your application. Please note that your physician will continue to monitor your condition to see if you still need to use weed. If he decides that you don’t, he must report to the Bureau and state that you no longer need medical marijuana to treat your condition.
Upon providing you with the certification, your physician must tell the Bureau that you are likely to get palliative or therapeutic benefit from the use of medical marijuana and also state that treatments such as the use of opioids have proven ineffective.
Step 4 – Purchase Medical Marijuana from An Approved Dispensary
Once you receive your ID card, you can buy weed from an approved dispensary. The process of handing out licenses is still ongoing, and the Bureau says it will offer 10 cultivator licenses, 10 manufacturer licenses, and 30 dispensary licenses; although we have read reports that up to 100 dispensary licenses may be handed out in the end. The list of towns allowed to host a dispensary includes Charleston, Elkins, South Charleston, Huntington, Clarksburg, and Wheeling.
What are the Qualifying Conditions Required to get a Medical Marijuana Card in West Virginia?
At present, the following medical conditions will allow you to become eligible for an MMJ card in West Virginia:
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Severe, chronic, or intractable pain which is neuropathic in origin; or else opiate and conventional therapy have proven ineffective as a means of treating the condition.
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Terminal Illness
- Crohn’s Disease
- Huntington’s Disease
- Damage to the spinal cord nervous tissue with an ‘objective neurological indication of Intractable Spasticity.’
- Intractable Seizures
What are Medical Cannabis Card Costs in West Virginia?
It is likely that patients will pay $50 although you may get it for free if you can prove ‘financial hardship.’ Based on what has happened in other states, the physician’s fee is likely to be between $200 and $300.
It costs $5,000 for a processor or grower application and $2,500 for a dispensary application. If the latter seems cheap, you won’t think so when the $10,000 registration fee per location is added on! Growers and processors have to pay a $50,000 fee per location. There is also going to be a 10% sales tax on sales from a grower/processor to a dispensary.
Other Important Information on the West Virginia Medical Marijuana License Process
At present, the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Program does not allow home cultivation. Interestingly, dispensaries are not allowed to sell marijuana edibles. Instead, you’ll have access to tinctures, liquids, creams, gels, oils, pills, ointments, and other non-whole plant forms. Also, smoking marijuana will not be allowed, but vaporization is. The law will allow for a 30-day supply of weed at one time but how much that equates to has not yet been decided.
It is believed that it will take patients between 30 and 90 days to get their MMJ card, but no one knows for sure because the program is months away from beginning. It is likely that the Bureau will enter into reciprocity agreements with states that have ‘comparable’ requirements for the usage and lawful purchase of medical marijuana, and patients with a terminal illness will certainly be allowed buy weed in another state with such an agreement.
Patients under the age of 18 (minors) can get medical weed via a caregiver who may be a parent or legal guardian, or any individual approved by the Bureau if there is no appropriate parent or legal guardian available.
The caregiver needs to go through a criminal background check, apply for an ID card, and register with the Bureau of Health. The patient also needs to have an ID card issued by the Bureau. Incidentally, a caregiver can be designated by a maximum of five patients.