Recreational Cannabis Coming To West Virginia As Dems Unveil New Bill

A new push to legalize marijuana in West Virginia will allow adults over 21 to possess one ounce or less of cannabis and private consumption.

House Bill 2091, introduced by Danielle Walker (D-Monongalia) on the first day of the legislative session, proposes changes to the 1931 Code of West Virginia.

The bill is heading to the House of Health & Human Resources Committee for review.

What's In The Bill

Under the new measure, "cannabis should be regulated in a manner similar to alcohol," but its use would be prohibited on government property as well as driving under the influence.

Cannabis sold by a cultivation facility to a retailer would be taxed at a rate of 15 percent of the sales price.

One of the bill's provisions seeks to create a special fund in the State Treasury named the "Cannabis Transfer Tax Fund." Retailers would be required to deposit all licensed revenue in a new fund.

Fifty percent of deposited revenue would go to the Public Employees Insurance Agency Stability Fund. The remainder would be used to improve West Virginia infrastructure and infrastructure projects and create a program to assist with orphan roads statewide, to name a few.

Meanwhile, support for marijuana legalization is growing among West Virginians. According to a survey conducted by Change Research last year, nearly 70% of registered voters in West Virginia, Arizona and Utah support federal cannabis legalization. They also want their Senators to vote in favor of federal reform this year.

Background

But, for now, West Virginians can legally access only medical cannabis.

Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 386 during its 2017 regular session, which legalized medical marijuana and created the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act.

Over the years, the medical cannabis program was amended to include edibles to the list of cannabis forms that can be legally dispensed. It also limits medical marijuana testing to two companies.

The first dispensary selling cannabis opened four years later, in November 2021.

These Companies Are Well Positioned For Potential New Market

Companies like Trulieve Cannabis Corp. TRUL TCNNF and Columbia Care Inc CCHWF were among the first to jump at the opportunity.

Kim Rivers' Florida-based medical cannabis enterprise scored a medical cannabis processor license in West Virginia in 2020. The $6 million deal to purchase Mountaineer Holding LLC was closed the following year, expanding Trulieve's footprint in the state to six dispensaries and positioned it for vertical operations.

In April 2022, the company acquired Greenhouse Wellness West Virginia Dispensaries LLC, opening its 10th dispensary permit in the state.

Other companies that operate in West Virginia's cannabis market include Heritage Cannabis Holdings Corp HERTF, via a deal with Harvest Care Medical, LLC and Verano Holdings Corp. VRNOF, to name a few.

Photo: Courtesy of Jimmy Emerson by Flickr and Kindel Media by Pixabay

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