CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A deadline is fast approaching for potential patients of the state’s new medical cannabis program that would allow them to have a card for two years.
Jason Frame, the director of the state Department of Health and Human Resources’ Office of Medical Cannabis, told MetroNews September 30 is the date that if patients sign up for a card by then, the card would be valid for two years. Registration after Oct. 1 will result in a card that is good for one year.
“We extended the expiration date of the medical cannabis cards for people that signed up early instead of waiting later in the year when dispensaries are actually open,” Frame said.
Frame said as of Tuesday morning there had been around 3,600 applications with just more than half approved. There have been in-person sign-up events through the state during the summer including in Charleston and Morgantown.
Those with a household income of 200 percent of the federal poverty level or less may apply for a waiver of the $50 state card fee. If a waiver is requested, applicants must provide documentation like a W2, paystub or proof of eligibility for low-income benefits.
Medical cannabis was legalized in the Mountain State with the signing of Senate Bill 386 on April 19, 2017. It created the Medical Cannabis Act that allows for cannabis to be used for certified medical use by a West Virginia resident with a serious medical condition to purchase the drug in the forms of a pill, oil and topical forms including gels, creams, or ointments; as well as in a form of vaporization or nebulization, dry leaf, plant, tincture, liquid or dermal patch.
The Office of Medical Cannabis lists serious medical conditions under the Act as:
Position status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Sickle cell anemia
Severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain
Terminal illness that is defined as a medical prognosis of life expectancy of approximately one year or less if the illness runs its normal course
Frame said the program has a lot of momentum with signups and credits a strong advertising campaign and word of mouth. The state has 100 dispensaries getting ready for opening later this year.
“We anticipate folks will continue to sign-up as a medical cannabis patient throughout the fall. We expect dispensaries to open mid to late November,” Frame said.
“Our goal is to get folks into this process early instead of having a rush of patients trying to sign up in the November, December time range.”
Frame said state residents can register for a medical cannabis patient card at www.medcanwv.org or call the office at 304-356-5090.