Medical-marijuana advisory board now in place in West Virginia

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A medical-marijuana advisory board is now in place in West Virginia.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources today announced the appointment 13 people to the board.

DHHR Commissioner Dr. Rahul Gupta will serve as the board chairman.

“The appointment of West Virginia Medical Cannabis Advisory Board members is an important step in the development of the program in our state,” Gupta said in a news release. “The Board is part of a transparent and accountable process critical to ensuring a comprehensive system that will help citizens suffering from debilitating diseases like cancer.”

Gov. Jim Justice signed the state’s Medical Canabis Act into law in April. It goes into effect on July 5.

The DHHR’s Bureau of Public Health is in the preliminary stages of developing an implementation plan and will announce its first meeting in the near future.

Under the law, patient and caregiver identification cards necessary to obtain medical cannabis can not be issued until July 1, 2019.

In the meantime, rules will put in place for growers and processors so they can begin to produce products. Rules for dispensaries and physicians, and requirements for the registration of caregivers and patients, also need to be developed.

Besides Gupta, the board members are: Arvinder Bir, MD, Huntington; Colonel Jan Cahill, Superintendent, West Virginia State Police, South Charleston; Michael J. Deegan, Social Worker, Cross Lanes; Michelle R. Easton, PharmD, Charleston; James Felsen, MD, Great Cacapon; W. Jesse Forbes, Esquire, Charleston;; Joseph Hatton, Horticulturalist, West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Charleston; Kimberly Knuckles, Pharmacist, Beaver; Rudy Malayil, MD, Huntington; D. Keith Randolph, Prosecuting Attorney, Madison; Joseph Selby, MD, Morgantown; and Russell A. Williams, Patient Advocate, Nitro