Dave Mistich Published

West Virginia's Medical Cannabis Program Still Far from Launch, Officials Say


Despite legislation that called for West Virginia’s medical cannabis program to launch this week, state health officials say they’re still years away from the first sale in the state. One reason for the delay has been the state’s need for a third-party vendor to handle banking services. 


State legislators passed a bill in 2017 that allowed for cannabis to be used for medical purposes. Legal forms of cannabis would include pills, oils, creams and ointments — but not the flower, or smokable forms of the plant.  


The West Virginia law called for the program to begin July 1, 2019. 


But issues with federal banking law forced legislators to amend the 2017 statute. After repeated hangups, that update cleared the legislature in May.


So far, five prospective banking vendors have yet to meet all of the requirements set forth in a request for proposals. That forced the state Treasurer’s office to cancel, amend and then reissue a bid last week for those services. 


Treasury officials say they are now in a “blackout period” and cannot comment until a banking vendor has been selected. 


A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health & Human Resources says it could be another two to three years after a banking vendor is in place before the first sales begin.