- Eli Hunt
Medical Marijuana in Virginia: What’s Up With Health Service Area I?
The legalization of marijuana in Virginia went a long way towards helping the citizens of the Commonwealth, especially those who have already received their medical marijuana cards! In structuring the sales of medical marijuana, Virginia took an interesting approach, dividing the state into different “Health Service Areas” and assigning a specific medical marijuana processor to that particular region.
The citizens of Shenandoah may have noticed that they’ve been without a processor this entire time! What’s going on in Health Service Area I, and when can citizens of the Northwest corner of Virginia expect medical marijuana?
The 5 Health Service Areas in Virginia
When establishing the rules and regulations around medical marijuana, the legislature took some interesting steps, including introducing social equity language into the bills. In terms of regulations, the legislators decided to divide Virginia into 5 health districts, as listed below:
HSA I – Covering the Shenandoah up to the northern tip of the state and running east to the coast around Rappahannock
HAS II – Covering the “hub” cities of Northern Virginia right outside the DMV and including Loudoun and Fairfax Counties
HSA III – Covering the southwestern corner of the Commonwealth and parts of central Virginia
HSA IV – Covering the eastern section of central Virginia around the capital of Richmond
HSA V – Covering the Eastern Shore and other coastal regions around the Chesapeake
Since establishing these districts for the sales of medical marijuana, the state has approved four processors to serve these regions. Dalitso LLC, which runs the well-known Beyond/Hello dispensaries, serves the busy HSA II region; Dharma Pharmaceuticals, a locally owned business, serves HSA III; Green Leaf Medical of Virginia, which also runs processing facilities in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Ohio, serves the region around Richmond; and finally, Columbia Care, serves the coastal cities.
And what about HSA I? According to authorities, it had a processor lined up… but then they didn’t!
HSA I: The MedMen/PharmaCann Debacle
Soon after legalization, a leading national processing company, PharmaCann, stepped in to apply for the role as HSA I processor.
The processor was told it had one year to build its new facility in the Staunton, Virginia area, where it had purchased a $200k parcel of land. and begin growing marijuana for cultivation and processing. The facility would need to pass inspection by the end of 2019 in order to gain approval for processing the next year.
In the meantime, PharmaCann and a second processing company, MedMen, announced their merger. When this multi-million dollar deal fell through, so did all plans for HSA I. By the end of 2019, there was no facility built or ready for inspection. After a series of additional delays, the state decided to rescind its conditional license to serve the region.
What Now? HSA I Still in a Holding Pattern
Since the debacle involving MedMen and PharmaCann, HSA I has remained without a certified processor. Other entities have stepped in to apply for the role. No company has been awarded HSA I yet, and the entire region seems to be in a holding pattern.
For now, residents of HSA I can still access medical marijuana by driving to dispensaries in other health districts, provided they have received their medical marijuana cards. Products as diverse as gummies and tinctures are all within reach, if you just put the miles in! Hopefully, a processor will be approved soon, so the residents of the Shenandoah Valley and beyond can enjoy all the benefits of medical marijuana!
Start the Process With a Medical Marijuana Card Today!
Living in HSA I and waiting for your processor? Don't worry, you don't need to wait! Get your medical marijuana card today and you can still enjoy quality products at dispensaries around the Commonwealth.
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