Medical marijuana banking bill heads to W.Va. governor's desk

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV MetroNews) -- The state Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill aiming to determine how money should be processed in the medical marijuana industry.

Senators voted 29-4 in favor of the bill. Senators Mike Azinger, Donna Boley, Rollan Roberts and Eric Tarr, all Republicans, voted against the bill. Senator Stephen Baldwin, D-Greenbrier, was absent.

There was an explanation of the bill, but no discussion or debate. It has already passed the House of Delegates.

The bill allows the state Treasurer to competitively bid banking services. The institution may be a bank, credit union or a “non-bank financial institution.” And the bill provides legal protections for the Treasurer and state employees involved in cannabis banking.

It also creates two funds.

The Medical Cannabis Program Fund, the main one, is designed to receive license fees, penalties and taxes associated with the program.

The other one, the Treasurer’s Medical Cannabis Fund, would receive all oversight and compliance fees charged to the chosen financial institution by the treasurer and to be spent on oversight and compliance expenses.

West Virginia has had its medical marijuana law since 2017, when legislation was passed out of the Senate and then was forced to a floor vote in the House of Delegates. Gov. Jim Justice signed the bill into law, saying “all of us will feel like we’re doing something good for families out there.”

But questions arose shortly after that about how West Virginia would comply with federal law when handling taxes and fees.

A bill meant to address those issues passed the Senate last year but fell short in the House of Delegates on the final night of the regular session.

The state Treasurer’s Office has been searching for solutions for handling funds.

The bill now heads to the governor. Justice mentioned the issue during his State of the State Address in January. He said it was time to fix the issues and get the program rolling.



 
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