Medical cannabis is supposed to be available in the Mountain State on July first, but federally charted banks have declined to accept any of the money in fear they’d be violating federal drug and banking laws.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said that technically that is possible, but its unlikely there would be any prosecutions.
So, the Legislature can set up a financial transaction system to handle medical marijuana payments and fees.
“Number one, federal law prohibits medical cannabis,” said Morrisey (R-West Virginia). “But, number two, there is a very clear non-enforcement policy of federal law that’s been in place for a number of years. And in fact in 30 states we have not discovered that there’s been any enforcement action.”
Medical Cannabis was passed by the legislature two years ago with bi-partisan support but is still not available. Some believe this clears the way.
“I believe that Attorney General Morrisey just gave us a fair assessment of the law as it stands today. And has given us the green light, no pun intended, to move forward with our medical cannabis program,” Delegate Shawn Fluharty, (D-Ohio).
As for the banking concerns that have blocked medical pot, some believe letting the state create its own bank, or using a state-chartered credit union might be the answer for financial transactions.
“Add credit unions into the definition of financial institutions that could act as a state depository,” said Delegate Mike Pushkin (D-Kanawha). “I think that’s the way that the states have had the most success in dealing with it.”
The State Treasurer’s office is looking into that and other financial arrangements.
While the specifics aren’t clear yet, the Governor’s proposed budget has $2.3 million allocated to fix and implement the medical marijuana program.