UPDATE | Charleston hopes medical marijuana can grow economy

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- City officials in Charleston say they’re open to letting businesses grow medical cannabis in the city.

City leaders maintain that some of Charleston’s old vacant buildings can possibly be utilized for medical marijuana growers to grow crops in them.

"This is going to be an economic development for our city that gets some of these vacant structures filled," City Councilwoman Mary Beth Hoover said. "It brings jobs here, it brings money here, I think that it is something that can really impact our city.

Charleston Mayor Amy Goodwin said she hopes this would bring dozens of jobs and revenue to the Capital City. The new ordinances replace existing ones which were written in 2006, before medical cannabis was legalized.

Growers, processors and dispensaries must comply with state regulations.

"These growers have to be indoors, they have to have closed windows, there is a lot of security around them," Hoover said. "I think that should ease a lot of people's concerns."

Purple Leaf Dispensary in South Charleston has served around 11,000 patients in its first year. It will open a second location on Bridge Road next weekend and plans further expansion with the passage of this new bill.

"For my business, as quickly as it is growing, that is just the next step, to be able to have a grow facility and a processing facility," Purple Leaf owner Kristal Reeves said. "Being able to have it in my hometown, that is beautiful to me."

City Council believes this would allow easier access for those prescribed medical marijuana in the area.

"The economic opportunities we have as far as redoing these different buildings that are dilapidated and are being burnt down and just look horrible in our city," Reeves said. "This is giving it an opportunity to flourish and beautify our city by increasing the revenue that it brings in as well."