PRINCETON – Medical cannabis dispensaries may soon get the go-ahead to final open in West Virginia, and two companies have pending permits in Mercer County.

In October, the State Medical Cannabis Office approved 10 companies to grow marijuana and 10 as processors in November. This was the initial approval limit that the state set for both types of businesses.

The list of 100 pharmacies that are allowed to open in the state has not yet been published. However, according to various reports, this should be done this spring.

One company that has already been approved as a grower and processor in Beaver, Raleigh County is Holistic WV Farms LLC, a Washington, DC-based company that has also applied for approval to open a pharmacy in Mercer County. The company already has many medical cannabis businesses in seven states and DC

The other company that has applied for a license to operate a pharmacy in Mercer County is Princeton WV Retail LLC, which is listed on the state website as a DBA (Doing Business As) Terrasana.

The application fee for a pharmacy license is $ 10,000 and for a producer or processor license is $ 50,000.

Neither company could be reached for comment on its plans once they were added to the list of 100 licensed pharmacies operating in the state.

The Mercer County Health Department overturned an earlier ruling last month prohibiting companies from locating in the county after being told by the City of Bluefield about the benefits of pharmacies as well as the former Del. John Shott who was instrumental in changing the original 2017 bill that allowed the product to make it more acceptable and reasonable in the state.

Due to Shott’s efforts, medical cannabis requires a tightly regulated process in how it is grown, processed, and sold, and it is being pursued very gradually. Everyone who uses the product must have a doctor’s prescription, just like any drug that is regulated.

“It’s not a perfect calculation,” Shott told the board members. “But we’ve looked at every other state that has it and added the best regulations and accountability to the bill.”

Shott said the bill was a “really good product” and there are people he knows who might benefit from it, referring to a testimony from a delegate on the floor of the house dealing with the use of medicinal cannabis Cancer treatment dealt with and how it helped.

He also expressed concern that if it weren’t available in Mercer County, people who need it would be forced to move to another county to get it.

“Have we really achieved anything positive by not giving them access to the product under supervision?” He asked the board, adding that the drug is being treated by a doctor and any doctor who prescribes it must first be trained in its proper use.

Medical marijuana legalization has spread across states in the country with increasing support. Various studies are often cited that show benefits for people with many problems such as cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and PTSD.

The board members had heard from Bluefield officials speaking at another board meeting. They requested the change to allow businesses to locate here after being approached by one of the businesses looking to locate an establishment in the city.

Jim Spencer, director of community and economic development at Bluefield, told board members that the health benefits are substantial and that he would support pharmacies for that reason alone.

The pharmacies create jobs, bring in tax revenues and cater for medical supplies, he said, pointing out that the county’s economic situation is poor. If the local residents cannot get these here, they will travel to another county where the pharmacies are located.

During the December meeting when the board approved the pharmacies, the chairman of the board, Dr. Randy Maxwell invited Jason Frame, State Director of the Medical Cannabis Program, to join the discussion.

Frame clarified a few points, including government oversight of the industry, from product growing to delivery, and reviewing strict guidelines.

Twenty-two other counties have already given permits for the businesses in the state, and another has not yet made a decision. Nationwide, 31 districts had not yet had any applications for a medical cannabis-related company to settle, so they did not have to make a decision.

The rules include more than 30 security and content test parameters, and everything is traced from source to submission.

Frame also said the decision to approve the companies for the county is up to the health authority. The district commission could only reject the decision through a referendum so that the voters could decide.

Medical cannabis is now legal in 35 states.

According to the state’s Medical Cannabis Office, the law also provides funding for research facilities to study the effects of medical cannabis on the treatment and symptom management of serious illnesses. The Advisory Committee will review this research and make recommendations to legislators for changes to the law.

It also provides income for the Fight Substance Abuse Fund; the Department of Justice and Community Service grants local law enforcement agencies grants for training, drug education, and other programs that focus on crime and addiction; and a fund to be used for vocational training and education programs for law enforcement agencies.

The office’s website lists the criteria that patients must meet to receive a prescription:

• At least 18 years old. If you are under the age of 18, you must have an authorized caregiver.

• You will be diagnosed with one or more qualifying conditions.

• Register with the office.

• Obtain a medical certificate, apply for a cannabis medical ID and pay the registration fee.

After these are met, patients can obtain medicinal cannabis from an approved pharmacy.

– Contact Charles Boothe at cboothe@bdtonline.com