Virginia Governor Ralph Northam had signed three medical marijuana bills in March. Those bills came into effect on July 1, allowing more patients than ever to access the medical and therapeutic benefits of marijuana.
The decision to expand the medical marijuana program came after an unsuccessful attempt at legalizing recreational pot earlier this year.
Medical Marijuana isn’t legal in virginia
Technically speaking, there’s no such thing as a legal medical marijuana program in Virginia. However, patients can apply for legal exemption, better known as affirmative defense, that protects them from criminal charges for possessing and consuming marijuana.
Notably, the affirmative defense law was passed in the year 2015 to allow patients with severe conditions to register with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy with a doctor’s recommendation. The exemption from the law only applies to CBD oil and THC-A oil as they are the only legal marijuana products sold by Virginia’s five licensed processors.
Bill 1: Let Doctors Decide
The first bill allows nurse practitioners and physician assistants (not just doctors) to issue medical marijuana prescriptions, once they have successfully registered with the Board of Pharmacy.
‘Let Doctors Decide’ has also opened a gateway for dispensaries to produce and sell a variety of cannabis products besides oil, such as topicals, capsules, lozenges, edible candy and suppositories.
Bill 2: Medical Marijuana in Schools
Until July 1, only 3 states allowed access to medical marijuana at schools. However, with HB1720 coming into force, Virginia has become the fourth state to do so. Now school healthcare providers can administer medical cannabis to registered student patients, just like any other medicine.
Bill 3: Registered Agents
The third bill is a blessing for the elderly and patients with disabilities whose condition prevents them from being able to access a dispensary or receive a delivery. A “registered agent” is someone certified to receive medical marijuana on behalf of a registered patient.
The state of Virginia is infamous for its poor approach towards medical cannabis and stringent marijuana laws. However, all that is set to change with the aforementioned three laws.