House Committee Advances Medical Cannabis Banking Bill

Jan 31, 2019

A proposed banking solution to West Virginia’s medical cannabis law has cleared its first hurdle in the House of Delegates.

The lower chamber’s Banking and Insurance Committee approved House Bill 2538 Thursday.

The measure seeks to find a way around federal law that prohibits states and businesses from depositing money from the cannabis industry. Under the House proposal, the Treasurer’s office would create two funds for West Virginia’s medical cannabis program.

If the bill goes into lawThe Treasurer will request bids to have one or more financial institutions handle services for the funds. The institution may be a bank, credit union, or third party.

Before taking up the bill, the committee had removed a provision that would have protected employees of the state Treasurer's office from federal prosecution. The committee adopted an amendment to reinstate that provision.

U.S. Attorney for West Virginia’s Southern District Mike Stuart has been a vocal opponent of cannabis legalization, for both medical and recreational use.

As was pointed out in an opinion by West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Congress has not recently appropriated funds for prosecuting the matter in states where medical cannabis is legal.

House Bill 2538 now heads to the chamber’s Judiciary Committee for consideration.