Virginia’s medical cannabis industry is finally commencing

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Virginia is on a mission to capitalize on the medical cannabis movement, with four new dispensaries expected to open for business later this year. A recent report by Virginia NORML revealed that four medical cannabis dispensaries are set to launch in the state: Bristol-based Dharma, Richmond-based Green Leaf, Portsmouth-based Columbia Care and Manassas-based Beyond/Hello.

In addition to this, new legislation will enable licensed processors to open five new dispensaries in specific ”Health Service” regions statewide. According to Dharma, business will begin in October, whereas Green Leaf will commence with retail in October. Opening dates have not been announced by the other two retail store operators just yet.

Aside from this element of evolution in Virginia’s cannabis scene, state residents will also be free to use the plant without worrying about jail time; back in July, a citation was introduced to treat cannabis possession just like a traffic ticket.

Virginia’s medical cannabis market estimated to be worth $50 million

Once fully flourishing, Virginia’s medical cannabis market is anticipated to be worth $50 million by 2024. What’s more, licensees of which there are five that have currently been issued may get fast-tracked into a recreational cannabis program. Separate figures drawn up in the Marijuana Business Factbook show that sales will hit $9 million-$11 million during 2021, escalating to $45 million-$55 million by 2024.

There’s a good chance that those projections could be further amplified if the market allows flower. Plus, since Virginia’s lawmakers have urged the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to make recommendations for regulating and legalizing adult-use cannabis, opportunity abounds for exponential market growth.

Who is eligible to participate in Virginia’s medical cannabis program?

Anyone who has been advised by a registered practitioner to use medical cannabis in Virginia can legally obtain their medicine. However, the registration process is dependent on who is registering, e.g. a patient, parent/guardian, practitioner or a registered agent. The Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) is in charge of applications. Once an individual applies, the process takes between seven and 10 days. Annual renewals are required for a fee of $50 for patients and $25 for practitioners, parents/guardians and registered agents.

In order to become a registered medical cannabis patient in Virginia, a number of things must be presented to the DHP. They include a completed certification from a registered practitioner, proof of patient residency, proof of patient identity, proof of patient age, as well as proof of the parent/guardian residency, age and identity. A Board of Pharmacy registered practitioner must also provide a written certification; only registered practitioners can do this. Doctors who wish to be registered can consult with the Board of Pharmacy.