The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act officially goes into effect Wednesday, but it could be years before citizens are able to use marijuana as a medical treatment option in the Mountain State.
What changes as of Wednesday is the appointment of an advisory board, which is headed up by DHHR and is made up of different professionals from throughout the state.
That advisory board will be responsible for creating the framework around how medical cannabis will be prescribed and distributed.
According to State Delegate Shawn Fluharty, patients will not receive prescriptions until 2019, but he believes once it takes full effect, the state will benefit.
"Every study shows that whenever medical marijuana legislation takes place, a decrease in opioid overdoses of an average of 25% then follows. We're in a crisis mode, and this legislation is a response to that crisis mode. It's going to really have a drastic impact on the epidemic we have in West Virginia," said Fluharty.
Once the committee develops a framework, there will be 10 designated growers and up to 30 dispensaries throughout the state.
He says the board will most likely take applications for growers in the future, similar to how it is done in Ohio.
Under the act, only patients of certain "serious medical conditions" are eligible to receive medical marijuana. For a full list, visit DHHR.WV.gov.