More delays in West Virginia’s medical cannabis program

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. (WOWK) — This week a legislative committee spent nine hours trying to draft dozens of rules for how the medical cannabis program will be implemented. The guidelines cover everything from how doctors will be trained about who can get the medicine, to how many security alarms a cannabis dispensary must have. Advocates say the process is taking way too long.

“We passed this bill with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2017. And I think we’ve seen a very alarming trend lately that when the Legislature passes something, if the bureaucrats and the executive branch are against it, they roll it out very slowly, if at all,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha.

But critics admit some of the rules are important, such as training doctors to know which other medicines might have bad interactions with cannabis. Still, they worry that rules for patients might discourage or prevent some from getting treatment that could help them. They might also scare away doctors who don’t want to go through the re-training from participating in the program..

“There are a lot of hoops that patients are going to have to jump through which to me is just, we need to be lessening the burden on patients. It’ seems like they are trying to make things easier for the business owners, but harder on the patients,” said Rusty Williams, West Virginia Medical Cannabis Patient Advocate.

Advocates say the slow process might delay availability of medical cannabis in West Virginia by two more years.

“The rule making process will continue for a few more months. But the first time the Legislature could actually vote on the medical cannabis rules, is when it convenes for the regular session in January,” said Mark Curtis, 13 Chief Political Reporter.

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