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Legally Speaking: Deeds, Medical Cannabis and Hunting Regulations

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TRANSFER UPON DEATH DEED

Doing some estate planning? One of the most valuable parts of your estate is likely your real estate. You may want to consider a “Transfer On Death Deed” under W.Va. Code § 36-12-15. This process allows you file a deed with the county clerk that names a beneficiary of your real estate, effective upon your death.

In this manner, the named beneficiary immediately receives the property upon your death and avoids the probate process, such as with a will. One benefit of this delayed transfer is that you can revoke this transfer at any time before you die. The grantor still owns the property outright, but unlike a life estate with a remainder interest, the beneficiary does not have an interest in the property during the lifetime of the grantor. Consult an attorney and tax professional for more information.

MEDICAL CANNABIS

Sadly, many West Virginians deal with chronic and life altering pain. Medical cannabis has been proven to provide relief to some individuals in various dire medical situations. In 2017, the West Virginia Legislature passed the Medical Cannabis Act, which can be found in W.Va. Code § 16A-3-2. Under that law, certain persons with “serious medical conditions” can apply for a medical cannabis certificate (patient card) from a registered physician.

A serious medical condition includes the following: cancer, HIV/AIDS amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with objective neurological indications of intractable spasticity, epilepsy, neuropathies, Huntington’s disease, Crohn’s disease, PTSD, intractable seizures, sickle cell anemia, severe chronic or intractable pain of neuropathic origin or severe chronic or intractable pain, or terminally ill – which means a medical prognosis of life expectancy of approximately one year or less if the illness runs its normal course. The only allowable forms for treatment are pill, oil, gel, cream/ointment, vaporization/nebulization, tincture, liquid or a dermal patch. These cannabis treatments may only be obtained at lawful dispensaries.

In January of this year, the Greenbrier County Commission voted to allow medical cannabis enterprises to operate within the county. Following that vote, the City of White Sulphur Springs recently passed an ordinance essentially adopting the state Medical Cannabis Act and restricting dispensaries, growers and processors to certain areas and numbers. Lewisburg also passed an ordinance on medical cannabis as well.

The Medical Cannabis Act is administered by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Bureau of Public Health, through the Office of Medical Cannabis. More information can be found at https://dhhr.wv.gov/bph/Pages/Medical-Cannabis-Program.aspx.

While the overall program has been slow to take effect, due to a contradiction with federal law and banking issues, and other setbacks, look for operational dispensaries to open within the next year or so. Of note, the Office of Medical Cannabis recently announced the approval of ten successful applicants for medical cannabis grower permits. Those growers can be found at https://dhhr.wv.gov/News/2020/Pages/Medical-Cannabis-Growers-Announced.aspx. The Office of Medical Cannabis further announced that they will next begin scoring processor and dispensary applications and expect patient cards to be issued in the Spring of 2021.

HUNTING REGULATIONS UPDATE
If you are like me, you love to get out in the woods or on the water to explore Wild, Wonderful West Virginia’s hunting and fishing pursuits. However, when doing so, you need to be abreast of the latest in West Virginia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) laws and regulations or face the possibility of a day ruining game violation ticket. For the 2020/21 seasons here are a few new regulations to take note of: hunters can now use leashed dogs to track and locate mortally wounded deer or bear. There is no worse feeling than wounding an animal and not being able to find it in a short period. However, now with the right dog, your search could be shortened considerably, and it is legal.

Be aware that as of 2016, private property boundaries can be legally marked with a purple painted vertical line on permanent, immovable objects no more than 100 feet apart. Clearly visible signs are still required at all roads, driveways and gates. Review W.Va. Code §61-3B-1 for more information on what is required for posting private land and what constitutes a trespass.

Hearing coyotes howl at night can be spine tingling and hunting these wily critters is very challenging. Coyotes can be damaging to young deer and turkey populations. While turkey hunting, I actually called a coyote in by accident but it jumped over a hillside before I could get a good shot at it. Beginning January 1, 2021, hunting coyotes at night using artificial light or night vision technology, including image intensification, thermal imaging, or active illumination, has
been extended and is legal through August 31, 2021.

Before hunting or fishing, read over the latest WV DNR regulations online at wvdnr.gov. Carry a copy of the regulations with you and review them during downtimes for a safe and ticket-free outdoors experience.

Fred Giggenbach is a practicing attorney in White Sulphur Springs. His column will aim to breakdown the legalese of rules, regulations and government ordinances to better understand their impact.

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