Medical cannabis products are supposed to be available by July first in West Virginia, but that start date is likely to be missed.
The dispute is over a bill that allows so-called vertical integration of services. That means a company can be a marijuana grower, a processor of the medicine, and the seller of the end product. The original bill only allowed companies to choose one of those functions, with perhaps higher financial risk.
“And I think most states have realized, if dispensaries are going to be able to do business, they’re going to be having to be selling their own product. And that is because the IRS does not allow for business deductions for dispensaries,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D-Kanawha).
But another medical marijuana advocate wants unlimited licenses. Right now the state is limited to just 10 vendors.
“I’m not a big fan of the fact that it’s basically going to hand the industry to ten companies. And you know I think this is an industry that West Virginians are more than capable of handling themselves, and I don’t understand why we need big money to come in and take an industry from our people,” said Rusty Williams, WV Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.
Lawmakers promise safeguards so that money from medical cannabis will stay in the Mountain State.
“One of the provisions in House Bill 2079 that the Governor just choose to veto, was that the majority of the owners of these companies would have to be West Virginia residents. We would like to keep the money in West Virginia,” said Del. Mike Pushkin, (D-Kanawha).
The Governor says he vetoed the bill over how it levies taxes on the businesses.
In his veto letter, Governor Justice says he fully supports medical cannabis products in West Virginia. He just wants the Legislature to fix this bill to his satisfaction, and he promises to sign it.