MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The West Virginia Treasurer’s Office has selected a banker to handle transactions for the state medical cannabis program.

Charleston-based Element Federal Credit Union submitted the winning proposal. The office announced on Monday its Notice of Intent to Award on Element’s proposal.

They have begun meeting and negotiating to complete the issuance of the purchase order. An official purchase order and more information are expected to be released next week, pending the successful conclusion of negotiations.

Element’s estimated annual cost, according to the proposal it submitted to the treasurer, is $104,275.44 Included among costs for other services is $132,000 for armored car/courier service.

After the issuance of the purchase order, the treasurer and Element— assuming successful negotiations – will announce additional information, including long-term goals and interim procedures for medical cannabis banking, the office said in a press release.

This selection process got its start in March, upon legislative passage of HB 2538, intended to address the cannabis program’s banking problem. Because medical cannabis money is still federally illegal, the bank holding the state’s checking account, BB&T, won’t handle cannabis money.

HB 2538 expanded the definition of financial institutions that could bid on the medical cannabis banking business, the treasurer said.

House Bill 2538 created the Medical Cannabis Program Fund to receive license fees, penalties and taxes associated with the program; and the Treasurer’s Medical Cannabis Fund to receive all oversight and compliance fees charged to the financial institution chosen to handle the program fund.

The office received three other responses to its Request for Proposal. They came from Fairmont-based MVB Bank; Kentucky-based JPMorgan Chase Bank; and DMTLP – Delivering Marijuana Teaming Logistics Planning – which did not offer a banking proposal but an offer to devote 90 days to build a closed-loop cash management infrastructure platform to bridge the time until cannabis is federally legal.

The treasurer did not open or disclose the cost proposals for the three losing vendors. Each vendor will have until noon Sept. 3 to file a written protest regarding the award.

This was the treasurer’s second go at soliciting proposals. It received the first batch on June 5 and rejected all of them because none of the vendors met the mandatory requirements, the treasurer said. Element, MVB, JPMorgan Chase and DMTLP were among the five bidders.

So the treasurer reduced and clarified the mandatory requirements and reissued the RFP on June 28.

Treasurer John Perdue said in the release, “My staff has worked tirelessly to make this program viable. I look forward to awarding this contract and moving forward with a banking process. My main priority is to help people in our state who want this medical option for either themselves or a family member.”