A bill to limit the number of medical cannabis testing facilities to two license holders in West Virginia took one of the stranger paths to defeat.

While the vast majority of proposed bills never become law, House Bill 4627 had overwhelming support in both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature. The legislation aimed to amend an article of the state’s Medical Cannabis Act to provide that “no more than two laboratories in this state may be certified pursuant to this section.”

RELATED: West Virginia House Clears Bill for Two-Lab Cannabis Monopoly

House members approved the proposal, 67-33, on Feb. 24, and Senate lawmakers voted, 30-3, in favor of the bill on March 12.

All signs pointed to final passage.

But a last-minute amendment by the House to change the bill’s title derailed the process. Delegates voted, 71-25, to amend the title on March 12, but the Senate ran out of time to approve that change before the Legislature adjourned later that day for the year.

The amended title dealt with a timeline for the two-laboratory limit, specifically stating “providing that this limitation shall terminate on Jan. 1, 2025; and prohibiting conspiracy between the two certified laboratories.”

Leading up to a vote in the upper chamber, the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee added an anti-collusion amendment to prevent the two facilities from working together to raise pricing, The Herald-Dispatch reported.

Currently, the state’s Office of Medical Cannabis (OMC) has awarded laboratory testing permits to two companies: Analabs Inc., of Crab Orchard, which launched in 1987 and serves clients with varying analytical needs in the state; and Steep Hill, a multistate operator under the Green Analytics license name, with footprints in lab testing, research and development, licensing, genetics and remote testing.

While H.B. 4627 could have been construed as an attempt to monopolize West Virginia’s cannabis testing industry, Analabs vice president Kelli Harrison previously told Cannabis Business Times that the slow rollout of the state’s medical program hasn’t provided much business for the laboratory market.

“There’s not even enough analyses for one [lab under current market conditions],” Harrison said. “So, the bigger issue is to make sure the labs can be viable. They’ve limited the number of growers. They’ve limited the number of dispensaries. Everything in the whole program is so limited. You can’t have endless laboratories, but really there’s not even enough [business] for one.”

When Analabs was awarded its medical cannabis testing license in March 2021, OMC officials had said that laboratory permits would not be limited in number and that the application process would remain open indefinitely.