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No Easy Business

Pitfalls to setting up medical marijuana

Under a 2017 law, West Virginians with prescriptions for medicinal marijuana were supposed to have been able to buy it by this July 1. Don’t look for that to happen ­– but not necessarily for the reason you may think.

As Ohio’s experience teaches us, setting up a medicinal marijuana industry almost from the ground up is no easy business. Buckeye State residents approved such sales before West Virginia, yet the first dispensaries opened just this month.

An enormous number of “ducks” had to be gotten in a row. What would be the requirements for legal marijuana growers? How would doctors prescribing medicinal marijuana be licensed and monitored? The list goes on.

Here in the Mountain State, a big obstacle was finding a way money that changes hands in the medicinal marijuana business could be handled. Banks are prohibited by federal law from dealing with those involved in marijuana, which remains illegal under federal law.

Finally last week, a system for handling marijuana industry money was devised.

It is entirely possible the banking plan cannot be implemented in time for medicinal marijuana sales to begin by July 1. That may not be a bad thing.

Now that they need not worry themselves over financial transactions, legislators ought to look into other aspects of planning. This is a new type of business that, for obvious reasons, needs to be gotten just right.

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It is understandable that some West Virginia legislators are annoyed that teachers and service personnel who shut down schools for nine days last year were paid for that time. They were so irritated that a provision in a major education bill calls for docking teachers’ pay during a work stoppage.

Officially most personnel were not required to report to work during the “strike.” Officials declared schools were closed for much of the time.

And some teachers wanted to go to work but bowed to enormous peer pressure not to cross picket lines. Forcing them to choose between the consequences of doing that and not getting paid may not be prudent.

Lawmakers should be careful, then, with any plan to dock pay during a work stoppage.

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