Another milestone in the long road to the legal sale of medical marijuana in West Virginia was achieved Monday, with the tentative awarding of a contract for a banker to process sales transactions.
State Treasurer John Perdue announced Monday afternoon that Element Federal Credit Union of South Charleston is the apparent winning bidder for the medical cannabis banking contract, pending a Sept. 3 deadline for other bidders to file a written protest.
“I look forward to awarding this contract and moving forward with a banking process,” Perdue said in a statement. “My main priority is to help people in our state who want this medical option for either themselves or a family member.”
This marked the second go-round for request for bids for the contract to provide banking solutions for sales, fees, licenses, taxes and other financial transactions related to state sanctioned medical cannabis in West Virginia. The initial request for proposals was canceled after none of the five bidders met mandatory requirements for the contract.
While West Virginia is one of a majority of states that have legalized medical or recreational marijuana, many banks have declined to handle money from marijuana transactions, which are still illegal under federal law.
During the regular session, the Legislature passed what was called the “banking fix” to make it possible for financial institutions such as credit unions to handle those funds.
Even with a company tentatively set to provide banking services for the state’s medical marijuana program, potential patients may still have to wait up to three years before accessing the service in West Virginia.
Under the program, medical cannabis dispensaries are set to be taxed up to 10 percent of their gross receipts. The program will cap 10 permits for growers in the state (with two potential locations per permit), 10 processors and 100 dispensaries.
Permits for growers and operators will cost $50,000, and permits to operate a dispensary will cost $10,000 per location.