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BOH discusses cannabis dispensaries

 The Monongalia County Board of Health convened remotely for a few moments on Friday and voted to put draft regulations on medical cannabis dispensaries up for public comment.

This according to individuals who were notified of the meeting and were able to watch it.

 It was the second special meeting on the issue in as many days after the board convened on Thursday for a meeting that, outside of public comment, was held entirely in executive session. 

The board has come under some scrutiny after a draft of the regulations previously shared appeared, to some, to stray well beyond issues of public health and into issues of planning and zoning. 

Ryan White is an attorney representing one of the 21 potential dispensaries with applications awaiting the needed green light from the county health department.

 “To adopt regulations like what they’ve put out there would do things they’re not authorized to do, such as land use planning restrictions. Restrictions on where you can put a dispensary and how you can utilize your land or how many parking spaces you have to have,” White said. “Those restrictions have to come through a process set up by law which includes adoption of a comprehensive plan. The only entities authorized to do that are municipalities and county commissions.”

It’s unclear if the regulations being put up for comment have been altered from the previous draft. The Dominion Post requested an updated copy from the Monongalia County Health Department on Friday, but received no response.

MCHD has also not responded to multiple requests for information on who drafted or provided the regulations. During the public comment portion of Thursday’s meeting, it was pointed out to the board that the draft version being circulated appears to have been authored by an individual tied to one of the applications awaiting approval.

Thirty-five counties across the state received applications from potential dispensaries. Contrary to information reported on Friday, Monongalia County is now the only county with dispensary applications still pending before the board of health. Cabell County signed off on its applications in August. Mercer County voted to deny.

While there doesn’t appear to be a set date by which the applications must be passed on to Charleston, members of the Monongalia County Commission have said they’re hearing the state will begin the process of selecting 100 dispensary locations in early November.

One individual following the process who’s asked not to be identified said the board of health is putting a lot of people in a difficult situation.

“So you could potentially have folks who entered into agreements a year ago finding out at the very last moment that they don’t meet whatever additional guidelines the board of health has decided to impose,” they said. “I think they’re going to botch this up. I can tell you that. I really do. And would be a shame for Monongalia County.”

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