New legislation signed by Gov. Youngkin, HB 1846 and SB 1337, has brought about changes to medical cannabis laws in Virginia. As of July 1, 2023, healthcare practitioners are no longer required to register with the Board of Pharmacy in order to issue written certifications for medical cannabis to patients. This move aims to improve access to medical cannabis for patients in need. Additionally, the legislation also allows practitioners to add a patient’s Registered Agent directly to the written certification, eliminating the lengthy wait for agent registration processing. Registered Agents can still request a physical card by registering with the Board of Pharmacy. The new legislation also includes provisions for improved medical cannabis product labeling and increased availability of low-THC, CBD-dominant products.
According to JM Pedini, the Development Director of NORML, these legislative improvements will greatly expand access to the medical cannabis program in Virginia. Once issued a certification, patients can present their written certification and a government-issued ID card to purchase medical cannabis from one of the state’s licensed medical cannabis dispensaries.
On January 1, 2024, oversight and administration of Virginia’s medical cannabis program will be transferred from the Board of Pharmacy to the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority. The transition is part of separate legislation, HB 1598 and SB 788.
Currently, under state law, adults aged 21 and older are allowed to possess up to one ounce of marijuana in public and cultivate up to four plants per household for personal use. However, retail sales in Virginia are only permitted to qualified medical patients. Efforts to legalize and regulate the retail sale of cannabis to adults 21 and older failed to succeed in the 2023 General Assembly. Republican members of the House General Laws Subcommittee blocked the advancement of retail access legislation, including a measure that had bipartisan support in the Senate.
NORML’s Pedini emphasizes the importance of providing regulatory oversight to protect cannabis consumers. Without access to a regulated marketplace, consumers may unknowingly purchase unsafe or adulterated products from the unregulated, underground market.
For more information, visit the Virginia NORML website.