Do I Still Need a Medical Marijuana Card Now That Recreational Cannabis is Legal in Virginia?
Updated: Jan 17
2021 was a great year for marijuana legalization in The Commonwealth. Qualifying medical marijuana patients got protections at their workplace, and Governor Northam signed a bill that legalizes adult use cannabis and begins the process of restorative justice in Virginia.
Expungements have begun for low-level nonviolent cannabis crimes. If you want to possess and use cannabis, you can now do so legally as long as you’re not carrying more than an ounce or marijuana at a time. And green thumbs can legally cultivate up to four of their own marijuana plants as well.
However, the new year—and new Republican leadership—bring up a lot of questions about what recreational marijuana laws will mean for Virginians in 2022 and beyond. Medical marijuana has bipartisan support in the Virginia legislature, and its availability will likely only expand in the future. But recreational marijuana still has some major hurdles to overcome before you can go to a dispensary without a medical marijuana card and buy adult use cannabis legally.
Let's take a look at why you might want to consider getting a Virginia marijuana card this year, and what's happening with adult use sales in Virginia in the short and long term.
Recreational Dispensaries in Virginia are Still in Question
If you have a Virginia medical marijuana card, you can walk into any dispensary in Virginia and purchase an ever-expanding variety of marijuana products that you're sure to love. You'll get legal access to marijuana now, rather than waiting for Virginia politicians to get adult use dispensary sales up and running.
When you shop at legal medical marijuana dispensaries in VA, you can buy edibles, medical marijuana flower, tinctures, topicals, concentrates, vape pens or cartridges and more, in a variety of strains. Check out a Virginia dispensary menu online, and you'll find an exciting array of sativas, indicas and hybrids, some with higher THC concentration, and others with higher CBD concentration, to meet your specific natural wellness goals.
Medical marijuana patients in Virginia can shop for medical cannabis products at any dispensary in the state, and most patients live in a delivery zone for at least one dispensary location. This means that you can order cannabis online and get medical marijuana delivered right to your door!
Right now, you can't go to a dispensary without a card in Virginia, and you may not be able to do so until 2024. While some lawmakers are trying to get legal recreational marijuana sales moved up to as early as July 1, 2022, there is a great deal of disagreement on how to make it happen.
Some Republicans acknowledge that access should happen sooner, rather than later, but others would prefer to see recreational sales get reversed entirely. With Democrats insisting on maintaining the criminal justice reforms and Republicans mostly wanting to nix them, it's going to be a real challenge to get any proposed legislation surrounding cannabis to pass this year.
If adult use sales do get moved up, the most likely deadline will be July 1, 2023, which is a middle-of-the road date approved by the Cannabis Control Authority ... and still more than a year away.
The Tax Savings on Medical Marijuana Vs. Adult Use is Significant
Despite all the bickering about setting up an infrastructure supporting recreational marijuana dispensaries in Virginia, one thing everyone agrees on is the taxes to be paid when you buy adult use products. The recreational marijuana tax rate in Virginia has already been established (though it's not yet clear where the tax money will go), and medical marijuana patients will see a significant savings.
Taxes on Recreational Marijuana Sales in Virginia
Sales Tax: 5.3%
Excise Tax: 21%
Optional Municipal Tax: 3%
Total Tax on Adult-Use Marijuana Products: 26.3 - 29.3%
Taxes on Medical Marijuana Sales in Virginia
Sales Tax: 5.3%
Tax Savings on Medical Marijuana Sales: 21 - 24%
If the average patient spends $225 monthly on medical marijuana, then that's a savings of around $50 a month, or $600 or more every year, over what you would spend at a Virginia recreational dispensary.
Your Job is Protected When You Have a Virginia Medical Marijuana Card!
A medical marijuana card is not a permit to go out and blaze in your car at lunch every day. However, Governor Northam signed a bill effective July 1, 2021, that makes it illegal for most Virginia businesses (with a few exceptions) to take adverse actions against employees who test positive for THC during a routine drug screening—as long as they have a Virginia medical marijuana card.
Employee protections for people with a medical marijuana card are a huge deal, because it means you can breathe easy about seeking the natural relief you deserve when you are not at work. You will still need to make sure you are not impaired on the job, but you can relax about your treatment choices with the protection of a medical marijuana card.
This is not the case for adult use marijuana, and Virginia businesses can still make employment decisions based on drug screening results if you don't have a medical card. If you fail a drug test at work, you can still get fired unless you take steps to protect your right to use medical cannabis.
Avoid Long Lines When Recreational Marijuana Goes on Sale in Virginia
When the first Virginia recreational marijuana dispensary opens and the day finally arrives that you can go to a dispensary without a medical card, you'll likely be waiting in long lines until supply catches up with demand. Though the infrastructure for adult use sales has not been established yet, medical marijuana patients will almost certainly get priority over adult use sales.
Arizona consumers waited for hours to get their hands on legal recreational marijuana for sale when the first dispensary opened, and officials in New Jersey are still working to ensure medical patients will get priority when adult use sales begin in the Garden State. In addition to the lines that are inevitable at adult use dispensaries when the time comes, recreational consumers will have a more limited selection of products than medical patients, until cultivators and producers can increase their output.
A Virginia recreational dispensary menu will likely look similar to what was available when the first medical dispensaries opened and there were only a few cannabis products to choose from.
You Only Have to Be 18 to Get Medical Marijuana in VA
In Virginia, adult use cannabis will only be legal for those 21 or older. Anyone who struggles to get alcohol for their next dorm party will have the same troubles when they try to get recreational cannabis.
However, while you may not be able to share your stash at a party, anyone 18 and over can walk into a Virginia medical marijuana dispensary—without their parents—and purchase their choice of cannabis products. If you want to be able to enter a dispensary at 18, you'll need to get a Virginia medical marijuana card.
Adult-Use Marijuana Could Still Get Repealed
Unfortunately, the adult use law in Virginia is not set in stone, and it could get reversed if Virginia Republicans band together. Though those that want to fully repeal legalization are in the minority, not one Republican voted for adult use cannabis legalization in the first place. If there is enough momentum for a repeal, it could happen.
Medical marijuana, however, is not in question, and your access to cannabis at Virginia dispensaries is protected as long as you have a Virginia marijuana card!
Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Virginia is Easier Than You Think!
Getting a medical marijuana card in Virginia is a quick, easy process. The list of qualifying conditions in Virginia is long, and medical marijuana doctors and nurse practitioners can recommend medical marijuana for any condition they believe would improve with the use of cannabis! Once you get your recommendation and register with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, you'll be able at any medical marijuana dispensary in the state!
At Virginia Marijuana Card, we make the process of getting your card convenient and affordable, and we are here to answer all your questions and help you every step of the way. We can assist you in obtaining your medical records if you are unsure of where to start, and our convenient HIPAA certified telehealth service means that you can attend your Virginia marijuana evaluation appointment online, from the comfort of your own home.
If you have been on the fence about getting a Virginia marijuana card, now is a great time to give us a call at (888) 633-5808, or simply schedule an appointment with a marijuana doctor on our website now!
Doctors Who Care.
Relief You Can Trust.
At Virginia Marijuana Card, our mission is helping everyone achieve wellness
safely and conveniently through increased access to MMJ. Our focus on
education, inclusion, and acceptance will reduce the stigma for our patients by
providing equal access to timely information and compassionate care.
Call us at (888) 633-5808, or simply book a medical marijuana evaluation to start getting relief you can trust today!
Check out Virginia Marijuana Card’s Blog to keep up to date on the latest medical marijuana news, tips, and information.