June 18 – MORGANTOWN – Monongalia County Health Department and County Health Department are not against medical cannabis.
The arrival of medical cannabis in the county is a public health issue and so is well within the regulatory powers of the local BOH.
The West Virginia Medical Cannabis Bureau is unwilling to properly oversee up to 100 pharmacies nationwide – worrying given that 14 have been approved for Monongalia County, which is far too many.
These were the key points that Monongalia County Health Commissioner Lee Smith and members of the Health Committee made Thursday when they argued before the Monongalia County Commission why the panel made a number of district regulations on cannabis dispensaries and why these regulations should be allowed to become law.
Pursuant to West Virginia Code 16-2-11, as recently amended by Senate Bill 12, the district committee has 30 days from the passage of the regulations on May 27 to either approve, reject, or accept proposals made by the health committee to change. This vote should take place in the regular meeting on Wednesday.
According to Smith, if passed, Monongalia County’s would be the first local regulations to be passed in the state.
In the Commission’s view, the crux of the problem will likely be whether it believes the BOH has the power to regulate medicinal cannabis beyond what has been codified by the West Virginia Legislature.
The Commission has received legal opinions which show that this is not the case.
This argument has been repeated by members of the community – many of whom are tied to potential pharmacy locations – who argue that the BOH is beyond the realm of the public with regulations, which include regulations regarding safety measures, the presence of healthcare professionals, and MCHD inspections Health has gone beyond and the locations of pharmacies, among others.
Calling the term “numbing”, BOH Chairman Sam Chico stated that the body’s real purpose is to address public health issues as they arise, be it at swimming pools, tanning beds, tattoo parlors or any number of venues.
The story goes on
“You have a legal opinion that says we don’t have that authority. I can tell you that we have a legal opinion that we have, ”he said, explaining that the matter may be decided in court.
The committee’s concerns include the potential for violent crime targeting pharmacies, which Chico said was the reality where pharmacies are located.
“I can assure you that after a while you will implement these rules. We can wait until people are harmed and then retrofit these places, or we can be proactive and install them, ”he said, explaining that the large, transnational companies already include many of the mandates that experience has shown to be contained in the BOH regulations .
The number of county-approved pharmacies – possibly eleven in Morgantown, two in Westover, and one in Star City – heightened concern among board members, including Toni DiChiacchio.
“The reason that is important is that there is certainly a correlation between the number of pharmacies in a place and the youth’s perception of the safety of marijuana,” she said. “That is certainly a population at risk.”