The latest delay involves changing proposed taxes on medical cannabis products. The originial bill passed by the legislature would have levied a 10-percent tax on growers; another 10-percent tax on those who process the marijuana; and then another 5-percent tax on those who dispense the medicine. A compromise proposal before the governor now would only tax the point of sale at 10-percent.
“I think that the state just wants to make sure that they’ve got enough money to self-sustain the program. And they don’t have to receive funding from some other source to support the medical cannabis,” said Michael Haid, a medical cannbis lobbyist
It was thought that the governor might call the legislature back in session in late April, to fix this bill and 14-others he vetoed with technical problems. But now the special session will be delayed until late in May.
“It is frustrating and it is especially frustrating for the peoiple that this bill was written for. People who are going through chemotherapy or who suffer from other conditions,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D) Kanawha.
Another big change is the plan to allow so-called vertical integration, meaning one company could be the grower, processor, and seller of medical cannabis products. The original law said a company could only do one of those functions.
“But without the vertical integration, it’s an impossible business model. And the stand-alone dispensaries, won’t have a chance,” said Michael Haid, the medical cannabis lobbyist.
The Governor promises he will sign the medical cannabis bill, if the legislature fixes the bill be vetoed, to his satisfaction.
“Legal medical cannabis products were supposed to be available in West Viirginia by July first of this year. But becasue of all the delays advocates tell us it may be another year or two before they are available,” said Mark Curtis, 13 News Chief Political Reporter.