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West Virginia Is Pushing to Allow Smokable Cannabis for Medical Patients

Currently, the state only allows MMJ to be dispensed as pills, oils, vape cartridges, and topical gels, but that could change soon thanks to the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.

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The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board (MCAB) has recommended that state legislators expand the state's medical cannabis laws to allow certain patients to purchase and smoke marijuana flower. The current law, which was passed last year but will not go into full effect until 2019, prohibits patients from purchasing or smoking cannabis flower or growing their own plants. Instead, patients are allowed to purchase medical cannabis in a form that can be vaped, or in the form of pills, oils, liquids, or topical gels.

The board's recommendation would not technically legalize the smoking of medical cannabis, but instead would only allow patients who have received individual approval from the state Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to acquire cannabis flower. It would then be up to the patients themselves to choose whether or not to light up their new stash.

"People can combust [cannabis] themselves if they want, but that's not what we're advocating or recommending," Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner for DHHR's bureau for public health, said to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

The MCAB also voted to recommend that state legislators remove or increase the current cap limiting the total number of growers, processors, and dispensaries in the state. The current law restricts any canna-business from filling more than one of these roles, but the board also recommended removing this regulation. If approved, growers could open their own dispensary, for example. The board hopes that removing this cap will allow smaller companies with less capital to enter the industry.

The board did not recommend adding any new ailments to the list of qualifying conditions for receiving medical cannabis, though. MCAB member Dr. Jim Felsen told the Charleston Gazette-Mail that he had received many requests to add anxiety as a qualifying condition, "but just throwing anxiety on there qualifies 80 percent of the population to get cannabis and I don't think... that's what the Legislature had in mind."