ST. ALBANS, WV (WOWK) – Medical marijuana is on the rise in the Mountain State. The grand opening of the fourth medical marijuana location, Cannabist, happened Friday, March 11.

A long line of patients waited outside the new Cannabist location for their turn at a higher experience.

“To see that patients finally have somewhere that they can go to get a safe natural alternative to these often addictive and poisonous pharmaceuticals. It’s a beautiful thing to know that West Virginians finally have access to legal cannabis. I couldn’t be happier,” Rusty Williams, who is a patient advocate on the state’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Board said.

Williams says he’s been pushing for medical marijuana since his life-threatening cancer diagnosis in 2012.

“I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was afraid of using opioids and pharmaceuticals to get through. So, I made the decision to illegally use medical cannabis. That decision saved my life,” Williams said.

Cannabis General Manager Paul Wallace says this is a way to cut back on addiction.

“One of the main reasons in my opinion is to try to curb the opioid problem, which is rampant in the world but in West Virginia it seems to be higher,” Wallace said.

Right now, the facility is only offering Care’s seed and Strain brand but will offer Triple Seven and Classix in the coming months – which Kimberly Bartley says is a good thing to help with her schizophrenia.
 
“You have voices in your head, and it just chills them out and they don’t bother you anymore. I won’t have to take that crazy medicine that,” Bartley said.

In this case we have people who are literally suffering with things like cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, a lot of really debilitating conditions,” Wallace said.

Only people with medical marijuana cards are allowed inside the states four open dispensaries because the products are only legal if a doctor prescribes it.

“Talking to the police department and getting them involved so that way we know we’re doing it right and legal,” Wallace said.

This is the fourth location with others in Williamstown, Beckley and Huntington. A fifth location in Morgantown is set to open later this year.