Latest News, WVPA Sharing

Kanawha delegate proposes medical marijuana law changes


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Delegate Ron Walters, R-Kanawha, suggested Wednesday that members of the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board recommend that personal growth of marijuana plants remain prohibited but consider allowing “the sale of buds.”

Delegate Ron Walters, R-Kanawha

During a board meeting at the University of Charleston, Walters also asked board members to allow medical marijuana dispensaries to grow and process the plants.

Walters was among about seven lawmakers who recently traveled to Colorado to learn more about the marijuana industry. West Virginia passed its own medical marijuana law during the 2017 legislative session. The law allows doctors to recommend medical marijuana to patients and gives the Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health regulatory oversight.

The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, which can recommend changes in the law to the Legislature, met for the second time Wednesday.

“I’m going to applaud you, but I’m going to caution you about the problems in our bill,” Walters said. “And if you can correct it through rule-making, please. That’s the easiest way to do it.”

The board also may suggest rules, meaning the specific plans for implementing laws the Legislature passes, to the Bureau for Public Health.

Walters also said that “one of the things Colorado did was, they seen their black market drop by 95 percent when they legalized recreational.”

“Before that, they saw a substantial drop in their black market by limiting the number of growers — not allowing people to grow in their homes — and the key element is being able to sell buds to make the oil to do the treatment,” Walters said. “Our law does not allow the sale of the buds, so we’re going to do the opposite of what I think we want to do, and that was start to kill the black market.”

Walters later said he meant allowing “processors to buy the bud to sell the oil and the edibles.” However, West Virginia’s law already allows processors to “obtain seed and plant material from another grower/processor.”

Walters also told board members, “We did not allow any growth of personal plants. Colorado tells us we should absolutely keep that in our bill. We should never let it out, because you can’t control it.”

Walters said those in the industry in Colorado “told us very quickly to get rid of the three tiers, because it will not work in this industry.” Walters, who was referring to the system of growers, processors and dispensaries outlined in the current law, made that suggestion because, he said, dispensaries would be unable to claim federal tax deductions for expenses.

Also Wednesday, representatives of the Bureau for Public Health talked about efforts to assess medical marijuana interest among patients and physicians. The DHHR plans to make small changes to patient and provider interest surveys, based on input from the meeting, and post the surveys online at within days. The information will help the Bureau for Public Health ensure dispensaries are established in appropriate areas, that seriously ill patients can access treatment, and project revenue.

Board members are divided into three work groups that will meet before the next meeting, planned for Dec. 14 in Morgantown. The work groups will discuss whether to change the types of medical conditions that qualify and the types of medical professionals that can issue certifications, whether to change the forms of marijuana permitted, including whether to allow smoking or vaping, and how to ensure affordable access to medical marijuana and whether to change the number of growers, processors and dispensaries. Work-group meetings are subject to the state open meetings law.

Open meetings are listed at

Reach Erin Beck at [email protected], 304-348-5163, or follow @erinbeckwv on Twitter.

See more from the Charleston Gazette-Mail

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And get our latest content in your inbox

Invalid email address