Medical Marijuana In Virginia – Progress Since 2015 And What To Expect In 2021
Virginia's Medical Marijuana Program
Since its inception in 2015, Virginia's medical marijuana program has offered tremendous benefits to thousands of medical marijuana patients across the state.
The Commonwealth neighbor of the U.S. Capital rolled out one of the most comprehensive medical marijuana programs in the U.S by affording any medical condition access to legal cannabis treatments.
Although the program offered flexibility regarding what conditions qualify, there was limited product availability and strict limits on THC. Virginia maintained tight oversight of the growers and processors.
Each new year, however, saw new laws and regulations implemented to relax restrictions and move towards a program that better ensures patients’ medication is readily accessible and available.
From modest beginnings in 2015, to taking historic steps toward full legalization last week, Virginia has made significant progress when it comes to marijuana legislation.
From 34th to 1st In 5 Years
Here’s a quick review of how the state got where it is today:
2015 - legislators determined possession of CBD oil or THC-A oil to treat severe epilepsy entails
2018 - the Virginia State Board of Pharmacy approved the applications for five companies to open medical cannabis dispensaries across the Commonwealth
2019 - lawmakers pass an amendment allowing medical marijuana doses to contain up to 10 mg of THC
2020 - Virginia Governor Ralph Northam approved a bill to decriminalize simple marijuana possession, which took effect July 1
2020 - The first medical marijuana dispensary opened for business
2021 - both houses of Virginia's General Assembly passed legislation to fully legalize cannabis. Retail sales will not begin until 2024
While Virginia marijuana advocates celebrate their long-awaited victory, medical marijuana patients in the commonwealth are reminded of the benefits of being a card-holder, such as:
Saving on tax
Paying cheaper prices for their medication
Receiving statutory legal protection
Obtaining medical grade cannabis they can trust
What Medical Marijuana Patients In Virginia Want in 2021
With all of the rapid advancements the state has seen in its medical marijuana program, under current law, the state prohibits Virginia medical marijuana patients from smoking their flower. Medical marijuana patients can legally consume cannabis in a variety of forms, but smoking the medicine is strictly forbidden.
But that, too, may soon be going up in smoke. With a 2021 reform on the horizon, lawmakers have considered the voices of medical marijuana patients making known to them that they want the option to combust their cannabis.
Although considered far less strict than some other states with similar medical marijuana programs, Virginia’s refusal to include smoking marijuana in the line-up of cannabis consumption methods is a law many patients want to burn.
Instead, patients often find a menu of capsules, sprays, tinctures, oils, creams, gels, concentrates, edibles, and transdermal patches. A plethora of options that excludes smoking cannabis in its natural, plant-based form. The form many cannabis patients want.
Just last week lawmakers passed amendments HB 2218 and SB 1333. This legislation now permits Virginia medical cannabis processors to provide cannabis flower as a method of treatment for medical marijuana patients.
With an overwhelming majority vote of 93-2, HB 2218 was read and passed in the House on February 3, 2021 permitting pharmaceutical processors to produce and distribute cannabis flower products in addition to other cannabis-based products. Read the official document
As these bills have passed and cannabis has been made legal, patients can expect to see the one thing they want most – to smoke their flower. The reformation to include smoking medical marijuana as a viable, legal option also makes Virginia one of only three states (along with Minnesota and New York), that would allow medical marijuana patients to consume their medicine via smoking it.
As Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML points out, “There will be a legislative effort to add botanical cannabis to Virginia’s medical cannabis program in 2021. Not every patient needs a highly processed, highly refined product, and in fact, most patients, particularly seniors, are most comfortable with cannabis in its botanical form because that’s what they’re used to.”
Proponents of the “lighting up” addition also suggest there to be financial advantages for medical marijuana card holders as cannabis is typically less expensive, and often easier, to purchase than other THC products.
Pharmaceutical processors would then be sole providers from seed to sale. The fiscal prudence seems apparent, as cannabis flower is less expensive for Virginia’s medical cannabis processors to produce, and that savings will be passed on to the patient.
Medicinally speaking, many patients also attest that the effects of smoking cannabis are often different than alternative methods of consumption. And for many medical marijuana patients, especially those suffering from PTSD and chronic pain, that’s precisely what it boils down to.
This is another win for processors and patients, alike, as unadulterated whole plant products are often found to be more effective for certain illnesses because they retain crucial cannabinoids often destroyed during the manufacturing process of other THC products.
Telemedicine and Virtual Appointments
In order to answer the need of prospective medical marijuana in Virginia during a pandemic, organizations began offering telemedicine consultations and virtual visits to ensure qualified patients receive medical marijuana cards. To initiate the virtual appointments, patients simply schedule a consultation, pay any applicable fees, and the qualification process begins.
To legally possess cannabis oil (until smoking flower is approved), patients will need to present an unexpired valid written certification issued from a board-registered practitioner and a current active registration issued by the Board of Pharmacy.
A good way to ensure a successful application process, it’s best to consult with a reputable medical marijuana company to assist you. Call us at (888) 633-5808 today! We’re here to help!
Qualifying For A Virginia Medical Marijuana Card
Virginia’s medical marijuana program remains generously inclusive in 2021 when it comes to qualifying medical conditions. Currently, the state accepts any condition or disease your doctor feels would benefit from medical marijuana treatment.
Additionally, for potential patients, submission of medical records is not required in order to apply for a medical marijuana card, further streamlining and simplifying the registration and application process.
Documents Required To Register for A Medical Marijuana Card
Here is a general list of the documents you may need to provide in order to register for a Virginia medical marijuana card:
● Completed certification from a registered practitioner
● Proof of Virginia residency
● Proof of Identity
● Proof of Age
● Proof of Parent/Guardian Residency
● Proof of Parent/Guardian Identity
● Proof of Parent/Guardian Age
Virginia Dispensary List
Virginia medical marijuana card holders have the following four dispensaries to choose from. Currently, four of the five health service areas are covered, with applications for the fifth area still being processed.
Beyond/Hello is a Northern Virginia-based medical cannabis pharmaceutical company located in Manassas. It has been awarded conditional approval by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
Dharma Pharmaceuticals is a locally owned company based in Bristol, Virginia committed to high quality medical cannabis products.
Green Leaf Medical of Virginia, LLC is committed to providing patients with safe and effective pharmaceutical grade medical cannabis products. It is located in the capital city of Richmond
Columbia Care is a patient-centered healthcare company setting the standard-of-care for medical cannabis. They are located in Portsmouth, Virginia.
As is the norm, patients will need to present their Virginia Board of Pharmacy Registration, along with a valid government photo ID in order to enter the dispensary and purchase their medication.
About Virginia Marijuana Card
At Virginia Marijuana Card, we are here to help! Our mission is to increase access to medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the State of Virginia. Our team of compassionate doctors and knowledgeable patient support counselors are here to help you every step of the way.
Call us at (888) 633-5808, or schedule your appointment online today!
Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) The Virginia Pilot Virginia NORML