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Last W. Va. County Approves Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia's lone holdout in taking action on cannabis dispensary permits approved 20 of 21 proposals on Thursday, The Dominion Post reported.

The Monongalia County Board of Health approved the permits during a special session after coming under pressure to get the permits turned over to the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis, which will ultimately select up to 100 dispensary locations statewide.

Monongalia County Health Officer Lee Smith pushed back on the criticism during the remote meeting by saying that public health has been pushed to the breaking point — undercut by continual budget cuts then called to be the front line against COVID-19.

Even so, Smith said, the medical cannabis permits, which the Health Department received in June, were not going to get a rubber stamp as they did in many other counties.

Currently, state law requires dispensaries to be at least 1,000 feet away from a school or daycare facility. The one location that was denied was found to be within 1,000 feet of a daycare center. However, some of the other locations that were approved could fall afoul of stricter county regulation that is currently in the works.

Board of Health Chairman Sam Chico said the dispensaries approved on Thursday would not be grandfathered in.

"If they change the state law or regulation, they would have to comply. If we change or add an ordinance, they would have to comply," Chico said.

Jason Frame, who leads the WV Office of Medical Cannabis, said they are finishing up the process of selecting processor locations.

"As soon as that's finished, we will move on to dispensaries. I do anticipate that process moving quickly. However, I cannot give an exact date of when we will release the dispensary permits," he said.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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