CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state chief health officer says West Virginia needs to figure out a banking solution before it can move forward with implementing changes to the new medical marijuana law.

File

Dr. Rahul Gupta

“We remain prepared and ready to act should the financial aspect of this is addressed,” Dr. Rahul Gupta told MetroNews.

Last week, the state Treasurer’s Office proposed two possible options to handle funds for the medical marijuana program. This comes after banks told the Treasurer’s Office they were “uncomfortable” and “unwilling” to process funds related to medical cannabis in the state because the drug is against federal law.

Treasurer John Perdue wrote a letter to Governor Jim Justice to ask him to consider the following options: (1) Establish a state bank or (2) Establish a third-party loop system through a vendor.

The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board previously presented several rule recommendations to the state Legislature, but the board was denied a majority of those changes during this year’s Regular Legislative Session.

Each potential banking solution would need legislative action.

Gupta said the financial problems need to be addressed first.

“I think the most critical aspect of the law that will help move it forward is the financial aspect. All the other recommendations are important, yet they’re not critical to the moving forward of this particular legislation,” he said.

The program’s July 1, 2019 start date could be pushed back if the state does not reach a banking solution sometime this year.

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