MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Monongalia Commission held their weekly meeting Wednesday morning and one of the topics of discussion was about a zoning request to build a medical marijuana dispensary in the county.
The request came from Verano Holdings, a cannabis company based in Chicago that has plans on building a dispensary in Pierpont Center in Morgantown.
Commissioner President Ed Hawkins said he did not see the zoning as being a problem, as long as it followed all regular rules and compared it to a request to open a liquor store.
“We’re being requested, much as we do to issue a liquor license, to say that there is no problem, with this being established,” Hawkins said. “Where we have no zoning requirements in the county, there is no conflict. If you want to establish a medical cannabis dispensing unit, then you will get a letter of permission from us because there’s nothing to object to.”
This is possible because in 2017 Senate Bill 386: Medical Cannabis Act was signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice. The infrastructure has yet to be put into place, however, the Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) has been taking permit applications for medical marijuana growers, processors, dispensaries and laboratories.
The OMC application period ends February 18 at 3 p.m., giving Verano Holdings plenty of time to submit their application now that the county commission has given them the green light.
Commissioner Hawkins said not only would it be within the law but that he had no moral objections to the matter.
“It’s medical marijuana that’s being dispensed,” he said. “It’s just simply to make it more convenient for those who do qualify, to allow it.”
Also up for discussion was the continuing conversation about Longview Power’s plan to build a new natural gas plant. Last week the Appalachian Stewardship Foundation (ASF) was asked to present detail figures about their spending with money received as part of the deal when Longview was building their coal power plant a few years ago.
This week, Hawkins said ASF had provided ample information, however, that that information was not what he would like to see. As discussed in the previous session, the commission had raised concerns that much of the $4 million ASF had received so far had been spent on legal fees and not on mitigating the effects of greenhouse gases on air and water as agreed in the original contract.
“What I would like perhaps is an encouragement to look at spending the money locally,” Hawkins said. “In other words, when the money is taken from a group that– if I’m given this money I would want to be proud of the project, as I stated in my remarks. I would like to see that money that was generated in Monongalia County be spent in Monongalia County.”