The Putnam County Health Board chose not to take a vote on medical marijuana Tuesday night, which would’ve either allowed or denied cannabis businesses to operate inside the county.
West Virginia’s 2017 medical marijuana law requires each county health board to submit a letter of support for medical marijuana in the county to the state Department of Health and Human Resources.
The deadline for a vote from the health board will be sometime in early March, said Jason Frame, executive director of the state’s Office of Medical Cannabis at the Feb. 11 Putnam County Commission meeting.
Health board members said Tuesday that they didn’t feel educated enough on the subject to take a vote, and asked to vote at a later date.
But within the next few weeks, the state cannabis office will call the Putnam Health Board to ask for a yes or no vote, if the state has accepted the permit of a business that wants to operate inside Putnam County.
The board doesn’t meet again until April 28, so an emergency meeting will need to be scheduled if the state office calls and asks for an answer.
Chris Yeager and Kristee Montgomery, who run and work for Appalachian Cannabis Company, said at the meeting Tuesday that they’ve applied to do business in Putnam County. They hoped to get the board’s blessing before the company has to cough up a nonrefundable $5,000 application fee to the state office.
But if their company, or another company who has applied in Putnam County, pays the fee and is approved by the state office, the health board will have to make the call whether to allow the business.
“We’re going to get the call, and I’m going to send it to the board, and I’m going to let them tell me what to do,” Putnam Health Board Administrator Lolita Kirk said.
If the board cannot meet, no response to the state office is the same as a no vote.
Even if the health board does vote to approve, Putnam residents will still have the final say on medical marijuana business in the county.
Putnam County Commissioners on Feb. 11 asked to have medical marijuana placed on the May primary ballot, rather than vote themselves to allow or block it.
Residents must approve each profession — growers, processors, dispensaries and laboratories — individually.
County commissions across West Virginia, including Kanawha County on Jan. 30, have given approval for medical marijuana operations.