- Jennifer Betz
Medical Marijuana Prices in Virginia Will Come Down Soon!
Several factors go into the cost of Virginia medical marijuana, and all signs point to lower prices in the near future!
If you’ve gotten your Virginia marijuana card and gone shopping at one of the four operating dispensaries in the state, you may have felt a bit of sticker shock when you got the bill. Or maybe you are avoiding getting your card because you have heard people complain that the prices are too high to bother.
Either way, you’re probably wondering when the prices will come down, and why you should get a marijuana card before they do. Though there is no way to tell for sure when medical marijuana in Virginia is going to become more affordable, there are several encouraging factors that point to more competitive pricing in the near future.
Qualifying for a Virginia marijuana card is simple, and having one means more than just being able to legally purchase marijuana before adult-use dispensaries get licensed for operation in 2024. It also means that your job will be protected (in many instances) if you test positive for THC, your purchases will be tax-free, and you can even have your cannabis delivered right to your door just about anywhere in the state!
Why are Virginia Medical Marijuana Prices so High?
The cost of medical marijuana in any state is a complex formula. However, it usually starts high and then readjusts as the market matures.
Startup Fees and Risk
Cannabis companies have enormous startup fees and take major risks getting going, as several companies planning to operate in Mississippi recently learned. The state had overwhelmingly voted for a medical marijuana program that State legislators fought passionately against.
Everyone else thought there was no use fighting it, since Mississippi voters had passed the ballot initiative already, but the state Supreme Court ruled that a technical mistake in the initiative filing made the new law null and void. So far, investors have nothing to show for their money, time and effort.
To make getting started even more challenging, getting a loan is almost impossible. If you want to open a cannabis business anywhere in the US, you need to have the cash up front.
No Tax Breaks for Cannabis Companies
Cannabis companies don’t get Federal tax breaks, which means that even money spent on business expenses gets taxed as income. Some states choose to honor business expense deductions at the state level, but Federal taxes still apply to all income whether it goes into the owner’s pocket or is used to pay employees for their labor.
Insurance and Banks
Insurance is mighty expensive in cannabis, because there are no Federal programs in place to help protect companies from major losses. When a grower loses a crop to fire, flood, or other types of damage, that’s it. There is little in place to help recoup that investment.
On top of insurance coverage being scant and expensive, most banks refuse to work with cannabis companies because even medical marijuana sanctioned by the state is still Federally illegal. The banks that do work with cannabis companies charge steep fees for facilitating transactions.
While the cost of medicine should not be based on who else is making it and how much they are charging, this is sadly the status of modern medicine. This is how life-saving treatments like insulin and chemotherapy can end up bankrupting families.
When medical marijuana makes its grand entrance into a state, programs are generally highly restricted, and there are few companies competing with each other. Demand is always much higher than supply, and people who have the money and are willing to spend it get first access.
The Good News: VA Dispensary Prices Will Come Down in the Near(ish) Future!
With medical marijuana finally gaining traction in Virginia, prices should be coming down in the near future. Here’s why we think cannabis will soon be much more affordable for people who have a Virginia marijuana card:
Competition on Two Fronts
1. Medical Marijuana Dispensary Competition
Virginia’s medical marijuana program was not originally set up to encourage much competition. It would only allow five processors, who would be required to be vertically integrated (meaning managing everything from seed to sale). The requirements were so rigorous that the fifth processor dropped out, leaving only four companies to compete with each other for their share of VA marijuana card holders.
The catch is that each of those four companies can open up to five additional dispensaries in their respective zones as demand increases. Hello/Beyond based in Manassas is preparing to open the first of its allotted additional dispensaries in Sterling.
The competition between dispensaries could also start to heat up once the second largest processor in the US, Green Thumb Industries (GTI), completes its acquisition of Dharma Pharmaceuticals in Abingdon.
As it is right now, three of the four cannabis companies in operation in Virginia offer home delivery to large areas of the state. Dharma’s (Abingdon) and GLeaf’s (Richmond) delivery areas overlap each other as well as Columbia Care’s (Portsmouth) delivery area as well.
2. Illegal Market Competition
Adult-use cannabis is going to be legal to possess and grow starting on July 1, 2021. While this is certainly something to celebrate, there is currently no plan to license dispensaries in Virginia to sell adult-use cannabis until 2024.
This leaves residents of Virginia in an obvious quandary. Unless you are going to grow your own marijuana plants (which will take at least three months from seed to harvest), you don’t have anywhere to purchase it legally.
While at Virginia Marijuana Card, we feel the easiest solution is to just get yourself a marijuana card, we believe that this situation will also embolden the illegal market. Dispensaries are going to have to bring their prices down in order to compete.
Supply to Match Demand
When cannabis companies get started in a new state, they are generally conservative in their estimates of demand, in order to prevent major losses due to an overestimation of enthusiasm. Some states don’t do a very good job of educating their residents, and some have delays in getting the word out that medical marijuana is now legal—especially with restrictive advertising laws.
However, processors now can see that people in Virginia are excited to exercise their right to find natural relief. They have had some time to get an understanding of the market, news about the program is spreading, and processors are able to make confident decisions about how much of a product to make for future sale.
The Big One: Smokable Flower is Coming!
Smokable flower is by far the least expensive format for medical marijuana. It requires the least amount of processing, and it is easy to produce in large quantities and a wide variety. Smokable cannabis flower is coming to Virginia dispensaries by the end of Summer, 2021!
This not only means that a more affordable medical marijuana format will be available, but it will also drive down the price of every other product at Virginia dispensaries.
Get Your VA Marijuana Card Now, to Take Advantage Lower Prices in the Future
The last point we have to make here is that the price of breaking the law can get exorbitant pretty quickly. No one wants to end up with a criminal record when it’s perfectly legal to just get a marijuana card and buy your cannabis products at a legal dispensary.
Right now, it takes about six weeks for the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to process your recommendation, and prices may have started to make their descent into a more affordable range by the time you get your card.
Sign up for an appointment with one of our compassionate marijuana doctors, to get legal access to a variety of concentrates, vape pens and cartridges, topicals, edibles, tinctures, and flower when it becomes available in the near future. Medical marijuana products sold at Virginia dispensaries are regulated and controlled for quality and potency, so you always know what you are getting.
You may have to wait a while before medical marijuana prices come down in Virginia, but the savings you’ll see in headache and product quality are temporarily worth the extra expense you’ll pay right 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 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. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to join the medical marijuana conversation in Virginia!