Medical marijuana uncapped gas wells, & more in the special session

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WOWK) – Delegates and Senators will be working on a wide variety of issues, mostly involving the 15 bills Governor Jim Justice (R-West Virginia) vetoed. One deals with the state’s struggling medical marijuana program. It will allow so-called vertical integration so that medical cannabis growers can also process the product into medicine, and then open their own dispensaries.

“In order for it work, it has to be a viable business. And without this provision in the bill, the dispensaries will not be able to survive on their own,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D-Kanawha).

Another vetoed bill would allow “opportunity zones” where business development in economically struggling neighborhoods, would get significant tax breaks.

“It will allow a lot more business investment and job creation in Downtown Charleston, Ravenswood, Mason County, Huntington, and  it will do a lot of good work,” said Del. Josh Higginbotham, (R) Putnam

But the biggest disappointment to many lawmakers is that education reforms will not be taken up this month, even though that was the reason for the special session in the first place.

“I think that expanding social services in the schools I think is one of the things we agree on. I think providing a little more local flexibility is something that we generally agree on.  I think the teacher pay raise is something we generally agree on,” said State Sen. and Minority Whip Corey Palumbo (D-Kanawha).

Lawmakers may also have a bill to deal with abandoned natural gas wells in West Virginia where pollution could leak into water supplies and the air.

A big question is, just how long will this special session last. At $35,000 a day, that’s always a concern. Right now the best guess from most lawmakers we talked with is that they will be in session Monday and Tuesday.

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