WINFIELD — Putnam County commissioners want voters to tell them if medical marijuana businesses should be allowed to operate inside the county.
County commissions across West Virginia, including Kanawha County on Jan. 30, have given approval for medical marijuana operations, because they give applicants permits to operate the businesses assurance that they’ll be allowed to do business in the county.
But Putnam County Commissioner Ron Foster said Tuesday he wanted to leave that decision up to county residents, rather than have the commission take action.
Foster made the motion to have residents vote. Commissioners Steve Andes and Andy Skidmore agreed.
On the regular May primary ballot, Putnam voters will see four different measures — because growers, dispensaries, processors and laboratories all must be individually approved to do business in the county.
If these measures pass, and the Putnam County Health Board sends a letter of support, medical marijuana businesses can operate within the county.
West Virginia’s 2017 medical marijuana law requires each county health board to submit a letter of support for medical cannabis in the county to the state Department of Health and Human Resources. As of Tuesday, the Putnam health board had not sent a letter of approval to DHHR.
Skidmore, who also sits on the county health board, said the board will try to reconvene before its next regular meeting on Feb. 25 to vote on sending the letter.
Jason Frame, executive director of the state’s Office of Medical Cannabis, was at the meeting Tuesday. He said the health board doesn’t have to meet the Feb. 18 deadline in order to be approved by the state.
As long as the health board submits the letter by the time the Office of Medical Cannabis finishes processing permit applications, which Frame estimated would be early March, businesses would be allowed to operate in Putnam County — if voters approve in May.