Medical Marijuana

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West Virginia Medical Marijuana Card

Despite its many medical benefits, cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance at the federal level. That means that it’s illegal to own or distribute cannabis products for recreational use. Fortunately, many states have made marijuana and cannabis products legal, at least to some degree.

In West Virginia, THC products remain prohibited for recreational use. However, in 2017, the state government passed the Medical Cannabis Act. This law allows residents of West Virginia with certain medical conditions to use marijuana to treat them. Even since the law passed a few years ago, the legal status of THC products has changed many times.

West Virginia Medical Marijuana Card
West Virginia Medical Marijuana Card

But what exactly is medical marijuana? How does a patient qualify for a medical marijuana card in West Virginia? How do you get evaluated, and what should you expect from an evaluation appointment?

Read on to find out if obtaining a West Virginia medical marijuana card is an option for you.

What is Medical Marijuana?

Medical marijuana, per the Medical Cannabis Act, is “cannabis for certified medical use by a West Virginia resident with a serious medical condition.”

The law allows patients with medical marijuana cards to hold up to a 30-day supply of medical marijuana. Approved forms of medical cannabis include:

  • Oils and tinctures
  • Pills
  • Dermal patches
  • Gels, topical creams, or ointments
  • Flowers or dry leaf, to be used in nebulizers

People have been using marijuana for centuries to treat a variety of medical conditions, including anxiety and depression, nausea or lack of appetite, pain (especially nerve pain), and insomnia.

Medical Marijuana Card
Medical Marijuana Card

West Virginia Medical Marijuana Card Requirements

Age and Residency

Patients seeking a medical marijuana card must be permanent residents of the state of West Virginia with a valid state-issued ID. There are no age requirements to qualify for the card, but patients under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian over the age of 21 registered as their caregiver.

Qualifying Conditions

The Medical Cannabis Act limits patients who qualify for a medical cannabis card to those who have a “serious medical condition.” State-approved conditions that qualify include:

  • Cancer in all forms
  • Epilepsy or other intractable seizure disorders
  • HIV / AIDS
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Intractable spasticity
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic or intractable pain
  • Neuropathies
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Terminal illness, as defined by a medical prognosis with a life expectancy of one year or less

Medical Documentation

You will need medical documentation from a physician supporting your diagnosis of one of the qualifying serious medical conditions. These documents might include medical records from your medical history, summaries of past office visits, or a letter of diagnosis from your doctor.

If you don’t have supporting medical documentation but you do have one of the qualifying conditions for a medical marijuana card, talk to a doctor who can diagnose you before you apply for a medical marijuana card.

Get Evaluated

Once you have your medical documents, you’re ready for a cannabis-licensed doctor to evaluate you for qualifying medical conditions. Only certain physicians are licensed to evaluate potential medical marijuana patients use–doctors must register with the Department of Health and Human Resources in West Virginia to qualify. You can find cannabis-licensed doctors online, and many of them offer telehealth visits.

Your cannabis-licensed doctor will review your supporting medical documents and medical history. If you’re approved, they will provide you with further documents you will need to apply for your medical marijuana card. These are called Physician’s Certification for Qualified Patients forms.

How to Obtain a West Virginia Medical Marijuana Card

Both medical cannabis patients and physicians who can issue them must register with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

Find a Registered Medical Marijuana Doctor

Doctors must first apply to participate in the Medical Cannabis Program. To qualify, a physician must meet the following requirements:

  • Show expertise in treating serious medical conditions
  • Complete a required four-hour training class
  • Hold a valid and unexpired or unsuspended license to practice medicine in West Virginia
  • Apply online to the Bureau for Public Health, Office of Medical Cannabis

Once a doctor has registered with DHHR, they will be added to an electronic database that includes all physicians who are registered with the Medical Cannabis Program. This database is available on DHHR’s website. Many physicians who are registered with the program also offer online services and telehealth evaluations if there isn’t a registered physician near you.

Register with the Department of Health and Human Resources

Like physicians, patients must apply online with DHHR to get a medical marijuana card. To apply, a patient will need to submit certain supporting documents:

  • A digital photo, which will be used as an identifying picture on your patient card
  • Valid state-issued photo ID
  • Proof of residency in the state of West Virginia such as utility bills, pay stubs, bank statements, etc.
  • Physician’s Certification for Qualified Patients forms as provided by a cannabis-licensed physician
  • Payment or a financial hardship waiver if one was requested and approved

DHHR will review applications within 30-60 days of submission. They will notify patients by email if their application is approved or denied or if further information or corrections are required.

West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice passed the Medical Cannabis Act on April 19, 2017, making cannabis legal for “serious medical conditions.” The state’s health department began accepting applications from qualified patients in December 2019.

The Bureau of Health maintains a list of registered patients and physicians and oversees the Medical Cannabis Program. This regulating authority handles processing applications for new patients, issuing ID cards to patients whose applications are accepted, developing and updating rules for the program, and inspecting and issuing business licenses for licensed dispensaries.

Patients must obtain medical cannabis from regulated dispensaries. Patients are not permitted to cultivate or grow their own cannabis products.

Patients are restricted from driving or operating other heavy machinery while they are under the influence of medically approved marijuana. The legal limit is three nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood serum.

Also, businesses can still require employees to pass drug testing. The Medical Cannabis Act does not prevent employers from taking disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment, per their workplace’s drug policy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Submitting and processing an application with DHHR includes a $50 fee. This cost is payable to the state by check or money order and must be mailed. The state also offers a financial hardship waiver to low-income patients. Individuals whose household income is less than 200% of the federal poverty level can apply for this waiver when they submit their online application.

In addition to the state application fee, your cannabis-licensed doctor will likely charge an office visit fee. This can be discussed with your individual medical provider’s office. Likewise, the cost of the THC product itself will vary depending on your prescription.

Unfortunately, cannabis is still prohibited at the federal level. Plus, it has not been recognized by the FDA to treat any medical conditions. Therefore, medical insurance will not cover the cost of cannabis products or physician visits to prescribe these products.

However, patients are encouraged to call their insurance company to double-check their policy and see if any other fees may be covered.

You should bring your state-issued photo ID and any supporting medical documents that diagnose your qualifying serious medical condition. If you don’t have documents from your doctor, you can bring other qualifying materials like pill bottles, your medical history, or office visit notes that support your diagnosis.

A caregiver is a person who can obtain medical cannabis on a patient’s behalf. Only patients who have registered with DHHR and whose applications have been approved may appoint a caregiver. Once a patient has received their medical marijuana card, they can choose a person over the age of 21 to be their caregiver. Or, in the case of minors under the age of 18, then the patient’s parent or legal guardian is their caregiver.

Caregivers must apply with DHHR online to receive an identification card. Caregivers can use these cards to pick up medical cannabis from registered dispensaries. Caregivers must pass a criminal background check to be approved by DHHR.

Medical cannabis in West Virginia must be filled at a registered marijuana dispensary. Until November 2021, there were no medical marijuana dispensaries open in the state. Currently, Trulieve has two locations set to open in November and there are more dispensaries scheduled to open throughout the state by the end of the year.

Trulieve offers both pick-up and delivery services to patients with valid medical marijuana cards.

Reciprocity is a program that allows the state to recognize and allow medical marijuana cards from other states. Currently, West Virginia does not accept reciprocity. This means that a patient cannot use a medical marijuana card from another state to buy medical cannabis in the state of West Virginia.

However, other states with reciprocity may allow patients with a valid West Virginia medical marijuana card to purchase medical cannabis. Note, though, that purchasing medical cannabis products out of state and then bringing them across state lines into West Virginia is still prohibited by law.

Conclusion

With dispensaries opening in West Virginia, now is a perfect time for patients to register for a medical marijuana card through the state’s medical marijuana program. If you have a qualifying serious medical condition along with supporting documents and are a permanent resident of the state of West Virginia, visit DHHR’s website to find a cannabis-licensed physician who can help you apply for a medical marijuana card today.