Four dispensaries are set to open this year in Virginia. Virginia joins the other states on cannabis legalization. The laws governing the medical marijuana program are getting more friendly. Since its launch in the four years, it has changed from a CBD-only program limited to patients with intractable epilepsy to a full-fledged medical marijuana program complete with products ranging from vape pens to lollipops.
Whole-flower cannabis is not available in the state, but availability is anticipated within the next two years.
With the licensed growers on the verge of opening this summer after clearing the lengthy permitting and regulatory process, lawmakers have agreed to another expansion in Virginia.
This expansion will increase the number of cannabis retail stores making the products easily accessible by patients.
The New Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Virginia
The good news is that medical marijuana will officially come into the commonwealth this month. This is according to Virginia NORML, which states that four medical marijuana dispensaries are opening in the following locations:
Dharma in Bristol
Green Leaf in Richmond
Columbia Care in Portsmouth
Beyond/Hello in Manassas.
According to Dharma, they plan to open in mid-August. Green Leaf officials said they hope to open in October. Columbia Care and Beyond/Hello haven’t yet spoken about their opening dates, but plans to open are already underway.
The great thing is that licensed processors are allowed to open five more dispensaries in designated “Health Service” regions countrywide. This became possible courtesy of recent legislation that favored that.
This is just among the impressive changes in Virginia for marijuana enthusiasts. Back in July, Virginians can no longer get arrested and face jail time for possession of marijuana. The minor misdemeanor is now treated more like a traffic ticket with a potential monetary fine. This is great news for marijuana users because they have one less thing to worry about, namely jail time for possession.
Before the decriminalization happened in Virginia, residents could be punished for marijuana possession with up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Fortunately, this is no longer the case.
Virginia Eligibility For Medical Marijuana
With more dispensaries opening up in Virginia, citizens need to be aware of whether they qualify for the medical marijuana program. In Virginia, you can be eligible as long as you have a condition that a certified doctor thinks could benefit from cannabis treatment. You can always talk to qualified marijuana doctors about your symptoms if you are unsure whether your condition qualifies.
Currently, VA has 8 million patients in the state and only a few facilities to serve them. This calls for more dispensaries to open. A recent article by Jeff Smith, for Marijuana Business Daily, projects that Virginia will see more than $50 million in marijuana sales by 2024.
Social Equity and Decriminalization of Cannabis
Just a day after the new marijuana decriminalization law took effect in Virginia, lawmakers announced that they are considering legalization. Last month, a group of Democratic legislators announced plans to introduce a bill to legalize and regulate a commercial cannabis market in the state. But, the measure will not be filed until 2021. Virginia lawmakers have seen legalization as necessary in the critical fight for social and racial justice.
“Decriminalizing marijuana is a great step in mitigating racial disparities in the criminal justice system. But there is still much work to do,” House Majority Leader Charniele Herring (D) said in a press release. “While marijuana arrests across the nation have decreased, arrests in Virginia have increased.”