West Virginia will soon be the home to a medical cannabis dispensaries as the West Virginia Office of Medical Cannabis recently issued medical dispensary permits for various locations throughout the state.
Columbia Care – one of the largest multi-state operators in the cannabis industry – was awarded the permits to operate the five retail dispensaries in Beckley, Fayetteville, Morgantown, St. Albans and Williamstown.
The company says it will take time to get the West Virginia program up and running, however, it hopes to operate six dispensaries throughout the state if regulatory approval is awarded.
“We operate in 18 U.S. markets and on a lot of the east coast, so our entry into West Virginia was just natural for us,” says Adam Goers, Vice President of Corporate Affairs for Columbia Care.
“When we grow this market to its full potential, it may be between 100,000 and 150,000 registered patients in West Virginia seeking medical cannabis for a medical condition,” Goers told the Register-Herald, adding that the dispensaries could amass an estimated $200 to $300 million a year in sales.
Goers says every new market takes time to ramp up, as they they have to build out the facilities, process the cannabis and ready it for the ready dispensaries, however, the company is hoping to have its first sales by the end of this year or early next.
The company also says it works hard to build an ecosystem within each state it works in and looks forward to doing that in W.Va.
“We pay a living wage, good benefits, health care, 401K, paid sick leave and vacation time,” says Goers.
The dispensaries could bring an estimated 80 to 100 new jobs to West Virginia, as all of the roles supporting the West Virginia medical cannabis program have to be done in state and can’t be outsourced, according to Goers.
“All of our operations have to be in the state,” explained Goers. “When we’re processing and dispensing the medicines – everything happens in West Virginia. Every product grown, processed, and dispensed has to come from West Virginia. It can’t come over state line.”
Aside from the economic boost the program could bring to West Virginia, Columbia Care says the medical dispensaries are just an overall win for West Virginia patients who could benefit from medicinal cannabis treatment.
“We’re really heartened to be selected and I think it’s because we do this – we think – better than just about anyone,” Goers said, adding that his company prides itself on consistently doing its due diligence selecting and growing the proper strains of cannabis to ensure the highest benefit possible for its patients.
“Many of our patients are suffering from debilitating life conditions and cannabis is the last option they have to look for. It really gets us out of bed every day,” said Goers.
He says it’s become a personal mission to help these patients –whether it be a child suffering from epilepsy, an individual suffering from cancer or a person suffering from debilitating pain or neurological symptoms that has been deemed a good candidate for medicinal cannabis treatment.
“We’re invested in this. We know the patients are excited. The practitioners are excited,” said Goer. “When people realize that these (patients) are their family members. Their neighbors. The people they sit behind in church with these conditions, or a child with epilepsy…. We see quick and early acceptance of this,” he said.
Columbia Care currently operates 108 facilities including 81 dispensaries and 27 for cultivation and manufacturing.
The company says it prides itself on delivering “industry-leading” patient-centric medical cannabis.
The company currently offers a product line including flowers, edibles, oils and tablets.