The U.S state of Virginia’s medicinal cannabis program has seen more forward movement, with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy announcing the state’s first five dispensaries.
Five winners emerged from the 51 applications reports NewsLeader, but Virginians will be waiting a while longer before they can access medicines. Before receiving their licenses at the end of the year, each company will have to pass background checks, then set about establishing operations for sales to patients. Virginia’s regulated medical cannabis program isn’t expected to become fully operational until late next year.
A company has been designated for each five health service areas in the state. These licensed companies will be vertically-integrated dispensaries, meaning they will undertake everything from cultivation to dispensing.
In March this year, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill into law (HB 1251) building on the affirmative defense for possession of medical cannabis oils, which also allowed for their use in treating any medical condition. Previously, oils could only be used in relation to treating/managing intractable epilepsy.
Only cannabis oils will be available to registered patients, which must contain at least 5mg/mL CBD or at least 5mg/mL THCA-A. Preparations cannot contain more than 5% THC.
While Virginia’s laws currently provide for an affirmative defense for a registered patient, parent/legal guardian to possess cannabidiol (CBD) oil or THC-A oil, it will still not be technically legal. It also remains illegal to transport cannabis products into Virginia, but many patients are doing so until such time they can source medicines in-state.
Cannabis oils cannot be prescribed, but a registered physician (i.e. registered with the Board of Pharmacy to do so) may issue a written certification, and that certification is required as part of the patient registration process.
The initial patient registration fee is $50 and the annual renewal fee is $50. The same fee structure applies to physicians registering for the program. More information for patients and caregivers can be found here.
According to the Virginia Department of Health Professions website, there are currently 144 physicians who can recommend CBD/THC-A oil.