Cannabis cultivation in Kanawha County is legal for medical use only by virtue of the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act which was signed on April 19, 2017. While Section 16A-7-6 of the Act allows counties to create ordinances to ban medical cannabis cultivation businesses inside their jurisdictions, Kanawha County has not done so.
Article 6 of the Act states that a medical cannabis cultivation company must first apply for a grower license from the Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) under the Bureau for Public Health of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources. The applicant is required to submit to the OMC written approvals from the Kanawha County Board of Health and the Kanawha County Commission.
Section 16A-6-13 limits the number of medical cannabis grower licenses throughout the state to 10, with each allowed to run two locations. A licensee is allowed to hold only one medical cannabis grower license but may also hold a processor and a dispensary license.
Section 16A-6-6 requires an application fee of $5,000 and a permit fee of $50,000 for the medical cannabis grower license. If the application is disapproved, only the permit fee is refundable. There is a permit renewal fee of $5,000 that is refundable if disapproved.
Section 16A-7-2 states that licensed growers must cultivate and store medical cannabis indoors, with the premises fully enclosed and secured with electronic locks and security surveillance.
Section 16A-3-2 states that medical cannabis sold by licensed growers to licensed processors or licensed dispensaries must have on the package only the name of the selling licensee, the species and form of medical cannabis contained, and the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabinol (CBD) percentages in the content.
Cannabis manufacturing in Kanawha County is legal only for medical cannabis products as mandated by the State of West Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Act. The county has not availed of the right to have an ordinance banning medical cannabis manufacturing businesses within its territory.
A medical cannabis manufacturing business is required to first acquire a medical cannabis processor license from the OMC, which is limited to issuing only up to 10 such licenses statewide. Kanawha County approvals must also be submitted by the applicant to the OMC. The licensee is limited to only one processor license but may also have a grower license and a dispensary license. The same application, permit, and renewal fees and rules apply as those for medical cannabis grower licenses.
Applications for medical cannabis processor licenses were no longer accepted since February 18, 2020. As of March 17, 2023, there were seven licensed medical cannabis processors in the State of West Virginia.
Licensed manufacturers must operate only indoors, with the facility required to have the same enclosure and security as licensed cultivation facilities. Medical cannabis sold by licensed processors to licensed dispensaries must have only the same things on the package as those sold by licensed cultivators.
Cannabis retail in Kanawha County is legal but the Medical Cannabis Act of the State of West Virginia restricts this to the retail selling of medical cannabis and medical cannabis products by licensed medical dispensaries to medical cannabis cardholders. The county has no ordinance banning the presence of licensed medical cannabis dispensaries even if the Act allows it to do so.
A medical cannabis retail company needs a dispensary license issued by the OMC, which is allowed to grant only up to 100 medical cannabis dispensary licenses statewide. A single owner is allowed to hold up to 10 medical cannabis dispensary licenses and may concurrently hold one cultivator and one processor license. One medical dispensary license authorizes one dispensary site.
The applicant must submit to the OMC the same Kanawha County approvals as those required of applicants for the grower and processor licenses. There is a single application fee of $2,500, a permit fee of $10,000 for each license, and a single license renewal fee of $2,500. Only the permit and renewal fees are refundable if the license or renewal is denied.
The deadline for medical cannabis dispensary license applications was February 18, 2020. There were 44 licensed dispensaries operational as of March 2023.
Section 16A-8-2 requires licensed medical cannabis dispensaries to be more than 1,000 feet from any daycare establishment or school. It cannot be in the same location as a licensed medical cannabis cultivation or manufacturing facility. The licensed dispensary must be indoors, in an enclosed and secure structure. Its permit must be posted prominently within the facility.
Section 16A-3-3 of the Act prohibits licensed dispensaries from selling medical cannabis in smokable or edible forms. However, patients and caregivers are allowed to incorporate medical cannabis into edible products for the ingestion of the patient. Section 16A-3-2 also prohibits the selling of medical cannabis in the form of dry leaves or plants, unless eventually allowed by the Bureau for Public Health.
The packaging of all types of medical cannabis sold by licensed dispensaries is permitted to have only the same things as those on packages sold by licensed cultivators and licensed processors. Allowed forms of medical cannabis for retail by licensed dispensaries to medical cannabis cardholders, in compliance with Section 16A-3-2, are pills, tinctures, oil, liquids, formulations for nebulization or vaping, dermal patches, and topical products. Additionally, Section 16A-8-2 allows licensed dispensaries to sell medical devices needed to administer medical cannabis.
However, Article 8 of the Act states that a licensed medical cannabis dispensary can only sell to a patient or caregiver with a medical cannabis card the specific form of medical cannabis indicated in the patient certification filed in the OMC’s online registry. Also, for every patient, only a maximum of a 30-day supply may be purchased. A repurchase is allowed only when the previous purchase has just a seven-day supply left.
There is no mention of medical cannabis delivery to medical cannabis cardholders in the State of West Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Act. Section 16A-7-3 only allows the legal transportation of medical cannabis between licensed medical cannabis businesses.
Terminal illness with a life expectancy of one year or less
Severe chronic or intractable pain
Positive HIV or AIDS status
Sickle cell anemia
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Intractable spasticity due to spinal cord damage
Upon arriving at a qualifying diagnosis, the physician will file a patient certification form with the OMC through the online registry. The patient must also be given a copy.
The patient must then register in the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Portal with the following documents ready for uploading:
Any of the acceptable proofs of residency in West Virginia
A valid photo ID
A passport-quality digital photo
A copy of the patient certification
If the patient is a minor, a parent or legal guardian must register the patient in the portal. The parent or legal guardian must then register as a caregiver to purchase medical cannabis since minors are not allowed to buy from licensed dispensaries. An adult patient who needs purchasing assistance may also designate a caregiver who must likewise register in the portal. Caregiver registrations must include a completed caregiver designation form. Caregiver applicants will undergo a criminal background check. Section 16A-3-2 states that each patient may name two caregivers.
Once the application submission is successful, the applicant will receive an application number. This must be written on the memo line of the $50 check or money order payable to the Office of Medical Cannabis as a processing fee, as required by Section 16A-5-1. This must be mailed to the:
Office of Medical Cannabis
350 Capitol Street, Room 523
Charleston, WV 25301
Applicants with an income not higher than 200% of the federal poverty level may apply for a fee waiver by submitting along with the application an acceptable proof of income. Examples are pay stubs, W-2 forms, or documented benefits eligibility. The applicant must wait to see if the waiver is granted. If not, the fee must be mailed.
The processing may take 30 to 60 days before the medical cannabis card is mailed to the patient or caregiver.
Further inquiries may be made through the following:
Office of Medical Cannabis
OMC data shows that as of March 17, 2023, the sales of medical cannabis in the State of West Virginia totaled $36,587,304.
Article 9 of the Medical Cannabis Act levies a 10% privilege tax on gross sales of licensed dispensaries, which dispensaries cannot pass on to medical cannabis cardholders. Counties and municipalities, however, are not allowed to impose local excise or sales taxes on medical cannabis.
All tax revenues and fees earned from medical cannabis businesses are sent to the Medical Cannabis Program Fund. This is allocated in the following manner:
55% for the Bureau for Public Health
45% to be divided as follows:
50% for the Fight Substance Abuse Fund
40% for the Division of Justice and Community Services
10% for law enforcement training and development
The OMC states that the medical cannabis industry employs about 2,000 people statewide directly or indirectly.
Medical cannabis was legalized in 2017 in Kanawha County.
Data from the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office on the FBI’s Crime Explorer page shows that a year before medical cannabis legalization, in 2016, there were 23 marijuana offense arrests, with 20 for possession and three for manufacturing or sales.
A year after medical cannabis legislation, in 2018, there were 22 marijuana offense arrests, all for possession.
In the latest available data, in 2021, there were 28 marijuana offense arrests, with two for possession and 26 for manufacturing or sales.
The following were the DUI arrests in those years:
2018: 134 arrests
2021: 84 arrests