CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The medical marijuana industry is expanding across the country and the state, but some leaders in West Virginia fear a large portion of the community is getting left out.
The Democratic Women’s Caucus of the West Virginia House of Delegates is urging The Office of Medical Cannabis to prioritize minorities.
In April 2017, Gov. Jim Justice signed into law the Medical Cannabis Act to be used by West Virginians with a serious medical condition.
Since then, few businesses led by women, minorities and people of color have obtained licenses to help those struggling.
“We’re talking about folks that are lower income families, folks that are experiencing PTSD, women and communities of color. All of them are left off the table at this point,” Del. Sammi Brown said.
The Office of Medical Cannabis released the names of 10 businesses this week that received medical marijuana grower permits. The women’s caucus says they’re all run by white males and want more transparency and diversity when it comes to these licenses.
In a letter sent to The Office of Medical Cannabis Monday, caucus wrote that the state should “Ensure that women, minorities and people of color also see the impact of these economic opportunities.”
“Having that different perspective and shared view of an ultimate goal being able to impact marginalized communities and folks that are definitely feeling the pains, the strongholds that pharmaceutical companies have had on this state on this country,” Del. Brown said.
The women’s caucus says it’s looking to diversify economic development statewide, but also wants to see diversity within that growth.
“We cannot continue to be seen as so short sided and close minded when we’re looking towards industry. Cannabis in and of itself could be something that really puts us ahead of the pack in this country period,” Del. Brown said.
The women’s caucus says it will continue to push to get more businesses licenses and will be introducing more policies in the years to come.