There are currently over 50,000 medical cannabis program registrants in Virginia. An estimated 8,000 applicants were still awaiting approval after registering with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to obtain their medical marijuana card so they could get their medicine.
Now, these patients don’t have to wait anymore.
Legislation signed earlier this year by Gov. Glenn Youngkin, HB 933 and SB 671 to eliminate the requirement that patients register with the Board of Pharmacy after receiving their written certification from a registered practitioner became law effective July 1.
“These legislative improvements will bring great relief to the thousands of Virginians who have been waiting to access the medical cannabis program,” said JM Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “We hear from dozens of Virginians each week who are struggling with the registration process and frustrated by the 60-day wait to receive their approval from the Board of Pharmacy,” Pedini added.
Patients will only need their written certification to shop at one of the state’s medical cannabis dispensaries. Patients must still see a registered practitioner to obtain this certification and Registered Agents will still be required to register with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
Virginia medical cannabis dispensaries
There are five health service areas in the commonwealth that are part of the state’s medical cannabis program. Currently, medical cannabis dispensaries are open (or soon will open) in four of the five health service areas. But health service area one (that includes Staunton, Augusta County and Waynesboro) does not have a dispensary where patients can get their medicine. Patients must travel to other areas in the state instead.
Why? Due to an ongoing civil lawsuit between MedMen (the company that took over the facility license that was going to open in Staunton), and the Virginia Board of Pharmacy; underway since a pretrial motion was held Dec. 18, 2020. On Jan. 14, 2021, Henrico County Circuit Court ordered the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to cease reviewing applications for a pharmaceutical processor permit in health service area one until further order by the court.
Patients have the option to travel to any of the medical cannabis dispensaries throughout the state to get their medicine.
Medical cannabis dispensaries in Virginia and their satellite locations:
Beyond/Hello, a Jushi brand
Alexandria (opening soon), 5902 Richmond Hwy, Alexandria
Fairfax (opening soon), 10521 Fairfax Blvd, Fairfax
Manassas (open), 8100 Albertstone Circle, Manassas, 703-420-4021
Sterling (open), 21290 Windmill Parc Drive, Sterling , 276-235-9700
Abingdon (open), 26864 Watauga Road, Abingdon, 276-644-6400
Christiansburg (open), 1675 Roanoke St., Christiansburg, 540-251-4406
Lynchburg (open), 1110 Campbell Ave., Lynchburg, 434-363-3436
Salem (open), 1634 W. Main St., Salem, 540-380-0420
Manchester (open), 2804 Decatur St, Building 30 Richmond, 800-484-0303
Short Pump (open), 11190 W. Broad St., Glen Allen, 804-613-5697
Carytown (opening August/September), 3100 W. Cary St., Richmond
Colonial Heights (opening August/September), 401 Southpark Blvd Colonial Heights
Virginia Beach (open) 535 N. Birdneck Road, Virginia Beach, 757-447-2303
Patients who would like to receive a physical card still have the option to request one by registering with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.
Diane Powers, communications director for the Virginia Department of Health Professions, told Richmond news station WRIC that the Board of Pharmacy will continue to process applications after July 1, even though medical cannabis cards will no longer be necessary under the new law.
A final cannabis-related amendment was put forth just prior to the last day of voting to ensure that medical cannabis cultivation is not interrupted should a processor relocate to a new facility, preventing disruption to product availability for patients, said Virginia NORML on their website.
Monique Calello (she/her/hers) is a social justice and health reporter for The News Leader in Staunton. You can reach her at [email protected].
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This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: Virginia marijuana laws passed for medical cannabis patients