Emerging Markets

2020 West Virginia Medical Cannabis License Application Overview

January 22, 2020 / By Cara Mickelson
West Virginia

Charleston West Virginia, by Sean Pavone Photo, courtesy of AdobeStock

Nearly three years after West Virginia passed the Medical Cannabis Act, bill SB 386, business license applications are finally available for the state’s medical cannabis program. The bill, which allows qualified patients to use medical cannabis upon approval from a doctor, and registering with the state health department, passed on April 19, 2017, making it the 29th state to legalize medical cannabis. However, concerns with securing banking sources for the program and its businesses, principally due to constant anti-legalization efforts led by U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart, hindered the program’s launch. It wasn’t until the legislature passed HB 2538 in March of 2019, allowing credit unions to enter the fold and providing some protections to financial institutions, that West Virginia’s medical cannabis program started to build momentum.

The passage of SB 1037 on May 20, 2019, furthered the pro-cannabis reform of the Medical Cannabis Act by:

  • Allowing vertical integration
  • Removing the requirement that dispensaries have a physician or pharmacist onsite
  • Removing language mandating physicians to consider non-cannabis treatments such as opioids before issuing a certification to a patient
  • Increasing the maximum number of dispensary permits from 30 to 100
  • Increasing the number of dispensary permits that one person can hold from two to 10
  • Establishing a 10% tax on gross proceeds for dispensaries

Applications for medical cannabis cultivators, processors, and dispensaries were made available on December 19, 2019, by the Bureau for Public Health’s Office of Medical Cannabis. The submission period is currently open, and all applications must be received by February 18, 2020, at 3 p.m. EST. Review all application forms here.

West Virginia’s medical cannabis program is limited to ten growers, ten processors, and 100 dispensary licenses. Vertically integrated companies are required to submit separate applications along with the associated fees for each operation type. Any combination of permits is allowed to be vertically integrated, under a single entity. However, the number of grower and processor licenses that an entity can hold is limited to one. The dispensary licenses are limited to ten per entity.

West Virginia Medical Cannabis License Types, Fees, and Qualifications:

Grower
  • A Grower, as defined by the Medical Cannabis Act SB 386 “means a person, including a natural person, corporation, partnership, association, trust, or other entity, or any combination thereof, which holds a permit from the bureau under this act to grow medical cannabis. The term does not include a health care medical cannabis organization.”
  • The Bureau for Public Health is allowed to issue permits initially for no more than 10 growers and one person cannot own more than one grower permit.
  • The application fee is $5,000 and is non-refundable.
  • The permit fee is $50,000 and will be refunded if the application is rejected or denied.
  • All required fees must be received within two weeks from the time the application window closes or the application will be denied.
  • Applications are required to be completed and submitted through the bureau’s online portal.
  • Grower applications will be assessed by the scoring team first (before processors and dispensaries).
  • Categories considered for scoring include:
    • Description of Duties
    • Organizational Experience
    • Proposed Plan of Operation
    • Security
    • Employee Qualifications and Training
    • Transportation of Medical Cannabis
    • Storage of medical Cannabis
    • Labeling of Medical Cannabis
    • Inventory Management
    • Nutrient Practices
    • Quality Control and Testing of Medical Cannabis for Potential Contamination
    • Record Keeping
    • Preventing Unlawful Diversion of Medical Cannabis
    • Policies and Procedures for Cultivation of Medical Cannabis
    • Waste Management plans
    • Timetable Outlining the Steps to Become Operational
    • Sample Product Label
Processor
  • A Processor, as defined by the Medical Cannabis Act SB 386 “means a person, including a natural person, corporation, partnership, association, trust, or other entity, or any combination thereof, which holds a permit from the bureau under this act to process medical cannabis. The term does not include a health care medical cannabis organization.”
  • The Bureau for Public Health is allowed to issue permits initially for no more than 10 processors and one person cannot own more than one processor permit.
  • The application fee is $5,000 and is non-refundable.
  • The permit fee is $50,000 and will be refunded if the application is rejected or denied.
  • All required fees must be received within two weeks from the time the application window closes or the application will be denied.
  • Applications are required to be completed and submitted through the bureau’s online portal.
  • Processor applications will be assessed by the scoring team second (after growers and before dispensaries).
  • Categories considered for scoring include:
    • Description of Duties
    • Organizational Experience
    • Proposed Plan of Operation
    • Security
    • Employee Qualifications and Training
    • Transportation of Medical Cannabis
    • Storage of medical Cannabis
    • Labeling of Medical Cannabis
    • Inventory Management
    • Quality Control and Testing of Medical Cannabis for Potential Contamination
    • Record Keeping
    • Preventing Unlawful Diversion of Medical Cannabis
    • Policies and Procedures for Processing of Medical Cannabis
    • Waste Management plans
    • Timetable Outlining the Steps to Become Operational
    • Sample Product Label
Dispensary
  • A Dispensary, as defined by the Medical Cannabis Act SB 386 “means a person, including a natural person, corporation, partnership, association, trust, or other entity, or any combination thereof, which holds a permit issued by the bureau to dispense medical cannabis. The term does not include a health care medical cannabis organization.”
    The Bureau for Public Health is allowed to issue permits initially for no more than 100 dispensaries and one person cannot own more than ten dispensary permits.
  • The application fee is $2,500 and is non-refundable.
  • The permit fee is $10,000 and will be refunded if the application is rejected or denied.
  • All required fees must be submitted within two weeks from the time the application window closes or the application will be denied.
  • Applications are required to be completed and submitted through the bureau’s online portal.
  • Dispensary applications will be assessed by the scoring team last (after growers and processors).
  • Categories considered for scoring include:
    • Description of Duties
    • Organizational Experience
    • Proposed Plan of Operation
    • Security
    • Employee Qualifications and Training
    • Transportation of Medical Cannabis
    • Storage of medical Cannabis
    • Labeling of Medical Cannabis
    • Inventory Management
    • Record Keeping
    • Preventing Unlawful Diversion of Medical Cannabis
    • Waste Management plans
    • Timetable Outlining the Steps to Become Operational
    • Sample Product Label
    • According to the application and scoring guidelines “for medical cannabis dispensaries, additional consideration will be given for: geographical location; population; the number of patients suffering from serious medical conditions; the types of serious medical conditions; and access to public transportation.”

West Virginia Medical Cannabis Patient Highlights:

Smokable medical cannabis flower, edibles, and home cultivation are illegal in West Virginia. The program allows for pills, oils, gels, creams, ointments, tinctures, liquid, and non-whole plant forms for administration through vaporization. Patients and caregivers can only access medical cannabis products through a licensed dispensary and with a physician’s certification. Physicians must successfully complete the Bureau for Public Health’s four-hour training course to participate in the state’s program. Upon completion of the course and successful submission of an approved application, registered physicians can recommend cannabis to patients with a qualifying condition that are “likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the use of medical cannabis.” Physicians can specify the form of medical cannabis a patient can use. Patients are limited to a 30-day supply of medical cannabis at a time, though it is unclear what the definition of a 30-day supply is or who will define it. It is also unclear when West Virginia’s Office of Medical Cannabis will release patient and physician applications.

The state’s qualifying conditions for patients include:
  • Cancer
  • HIV/AIDS
  • ALS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Epilepsy
  • Neuropathies
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Intractable seizures
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Severe chronic or intractable pain

Entrepreneurs interested in securing a medical cannabis license in West Virginia need to act quickly. Acquiring compliant real estate, developing a qualified management team, and creating a comprehensive and complete application within this short timeline will be challenging. Our team has worked with nearly 500 cannabis businesses across 34 states, two territories, and 17 countries. We know the process well, and we have the content and best practices you will need to complete your application before February 18, 2020, by 3:00 P.M. EST. Contact us today to get started.

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