BECKLEY, WEST VIRGINIA (WVNS) — Weed. Cannabis. Marijuana. A common word these days as states across the country pass medical marijuana laws. For folks in West Virginia, the slow-burning medical cannabis law is starting to bloom as dispensaries spark up across the region and many have questions.

But how does one partake in the state’s new medical cannabis program? What is medical cannabis used for? What will my friends and family think? These are the kinds of questions many have when it comes to cannabis usage. At the Courtyard by Marriott in Beckley, retailer Cannabist partnered with Releaf Specialists to help West Virginians get to know their new cannabis options.

Store manager of Cannabist Colin Christmas said, “In the past, I’ve had many patients that have been able to get off of prescriptions that they’ve been taking for years just with the benefits of cannabis. So, yes, we’re really happy to be here in West Virginia. It’s a new market, so everybody’s learning. So we’re just helping spread the word. That’s why we’re doing the Doctor-Patient Sign-Up event.”

Releaf Specialists owner Bob Scherer added, “So this time, whenever we plan this kind of go around, we figured that we would, you know, work with the dispensary, and have the dispensary available to answer some questions for some patients that were unfamiliar with what to expect once they got their card to get certified for the medical cannabis”

In West Virginia, you cannot just walk into a dispensary and buy weed. A Medical Cannabis Card from the WV Office of Medical Cannabis is required. Something this event aimed to help folks with.

Christmas said about the event, “It’s also the ability to kind of get it all done in one stop that OMC the Office of Medical Cannabis for West Virginia will actually be on-site helping with applications through the state. So it’s really good you know, you can meet with the doctor and then get the recommendation and then actually send in your application

If you missed the event on Monday, April 18, 2022, Cannabist and Releaf Specialists will be in Charleston on Tuesday, April 19. with the WVMCO. Scherer says the stigma around cannabis is outdated and simply wrong. Given the epidemic of opioids in West Virginia, marijuana is not an overdose-inducing drug and is often used as an exit drug rather than the “gateway drug” people think.

“One thing in our industry is, is we tell everybody this is something you’ve been lied to about before life,” Scherer said, “The war on drugs has failed us. We’ve seen that. And cannabis has actually been found to be an exit drug. It helps you get off of other drugs. It helps with detoxing from Suboxone and opiates, and it helps with all the side effects of that.

For West Virginia, medical marijuana can’t be smoked and is only available in vapes, oils, or pills. While there is an intoxicating side-effect, dispensaries and your doctor can minimize your dose to avoid that effect allowing just the medical benefits of cannabis to guide your medical needs.

If you are interested in learning more, have a question, or would like help setting up your cannabis card with West Virginia another educational event is planned for Tuesday, April 19, 2022, at the Hampton Inn in Charleston from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Hampton Inn’s address is 1 Virginia Street West, Charleston, WV.

Cannabist owns and operates 4 stores in West Virginia including locations at Beckley, Williamstown, St. Albans, and Morgantown. Overall the company has several stores across the nation. The Beckley location is in the Galleria Shopping Plaza at 300 Galleria Plaza, Beckley, WV 25801. The phone number for the Beckley location is 304-362-0518. Christmas said the store is always willing to field questions and point folks in the right direction regarding cannabis needs.

Releaf Specialists is a group of locally registered physicians. The company is located in Pennsylvania and operates in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Since West Virginia law requires physicians to be registered and licensed to recommend cannabis treatment options, this group connects those doctors to patients. They are also a wealth of information regarding laws, cannabis cards, and general questions. You can find them over on their website.