The State of Virginia’s medical marijuana program is almost here, and soon there will be at least four dispensaries operating in the Old Dominion. Depending on Gov. Ralph Northam (D), that number could be as high as thirty. In order to participate, patients will first need to register with the state and be issued an ID card.
Virginia’s Medical Cannabis Program
What began originally as CBD-centric legislation, has now morphed into something that more closely resembles a bona fide medical marijuana program. Despite this shift, lawmakers have been reticent to refer to SB 1557 explicitly as a medical marijuana program, opting instead to use the phrase “Low THC Oil Program.”
Currently, SB 1577 only extends to cannabis extracts. So, while patients won’t have access to actual marijuana flower, the umbrella of “extract” opens up the possibility of a litany of different cannabis products including capsules, inhalers, lozenges, patches, and even lollipops.
How to Register
To begin the registration process, you’ll need three things:
- Proof of Identity (name, age, residency. These things will be covered by a valid Virginia Driver’s License )
- A written recommendation from a registered practitioner
- $50 to cover the registration fee
Unlike in other states, Virginia doesn’t have a list of pre-approved conditions that can qualify a person for access to medical marijuana. What this means is that any doctor, provided that they are registered with the board of pharmacy, can recommend medical cannabis to any patient so long as they believe it will benefit them.
If your health provider is not registered and wishes to remain unregistered, Virginia NORML has compiled a list of licensed practitioners here.
Once you’ve acquired all the necessary paperwork, you’ll need to visit the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) Initial Applications site to begin the registration process. Here you will be required to enter your name and social security number. If you’re not already in the licensing system, you will be prompted to create an account.
Once you’ve logged in, select “initial application” from the menu on the left-hand side. Then select “Pharmaceutical Processing” from the dropdown menu marked “Profession.” On the dropdown menu marked “License Type” select “Registered Patient for Cannabis Oil.” For the final dropdown menu marked “Obtained by Method,” you’ll select “Initial Application.” Now, click the start application button.
From here, you will complete the registration process by paying the $50 fee, and by mailing, faxing, or emailing your documents listed above to the provided address. It may take the Board of Pharmacy up to ten days to process your application. Once you’re approved, your ID card will be sent to you by mail.
Where to Find Medical Cannabis
Once you’ve completed your application process and received your ID card, the next step will be to visit one of the VMCC’s (Virginia Medical Cannabis Coalition) processors. The first of these locations expected to open is Dharma in Bristol, which is predicted to be operational as early as this month. Greenleaf in Richmond is expected to shortly follow suit. So far, the other two confirmed locations, Beyond/Hello and Columbia Care, have yet to make public statements regarding opening dates.