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West Virginia House approves medical cannabis banking bill

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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February was a successful month for West Virginia’s medical cannabis industry.

A bill to shield state protections for banks handling medical cannabis revenue was given the green light by the West Virginia House of Delegates. The legislation for medical cannabis banking in West Virginia was introduced by Del. Eric Nelson (R).

It grants the state treasurer a chance to initiate a bidding process targeted towards banks and financial institutions that would be happy to deal with all “fees, penalties and taxes collected under” the state’s medical cannabis program.

Furthermore, the medical cannabis banking bill will prevent financial institutions from being prohibited, penalized or incentivized by the state government, so long as the medical cannabis business adheres to state law.

Government will cover fees incurred by anyone penalized for medical cannabis banking in West Virginia

Based on the details of the bill, the “payment of the amount of any judgment obtained, damages, legal fees and expenses, and any other expenses incurred” shall be covered by the government.

What this means is that in the event that someone employed by a company in the state faces a penalty for their involvement with medical cannabis banking in West Virginia, the government will come to their defense.

“The Legislature finds and declares that the inability to provide banking services needed to collect and remit the fees, penalties, and taxes authorized under the West Virginia Medical Cannabis Act has delayed the implementation and is precluding access by the patients potentially eligible to be prescribed medical cannabis and investment by the persons and entities interested in providing services under the Act,” reads the bill.

What motivated the legalization of medical cannabis banking in West Virginia?

The main motive that prompted legal medical cannabis banking in West Virginia was the delay caused by a lack of banking.

Fearful banks have been treading carefully due to concerns about federal prosecution if caught dealing with accounts that have cannabis industry ties.

Nelson’s bill to permit medical cannabis banking in West Virginia symbolizes the ever-growing support for cannabis on a political scale. Although West Virginia lawmakers can’t change the fact that cannabis is still prohibited at the federal level, risks are being taken by banks who have started opening cannabis accounts, according to recent data.

Plus, with lawmakers recently getting together to discuss the initial cannabis hearing on the 116th Congress and address the issue, it’s clear that the outlook for cannabis reform is metamorphosing.

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West Virginia House approves medical cannabis banking bill