The Virginia State Board of Pharmacy just recently granted conditional approval for the applications of five companies to open medical marijuana dispensaries across the Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth of Virginia’s Legislative History with Cannabis
As mentioned above, 2015 legislation provided an affirmative defense for the possession of cannabidiol or THC-A oil with a physician’s recommendation certification for patient use of the oils to alleviate intractable epilepsy.
While this 2015 legislation was a step in the right direction, the legislation made no provision for how a patient is to acquire these substances.
Finally, in 2018, legislation passed which expanded the legal use of THC-A and CBD oils to any diagnosed condition or disease, upon recommendation from any physician, while also requiring that dispensing of these oils be reported to the Prescription Monitoring Program and that physicians request information from the Prescription Monitoring Program prior to issuing written certifications.
Fast forward to now, and we are finally seeing progress on the permitting of these five producers and retailers.
Competitive Application Process
First and foremost, it cost $10,000 to submit an application. It takes money to make money, right?
Out of 51 applications that the Virginia State Board of Pharmacy received prior to the June 8th, 2018 application deadline, the five that were granted conditional approval have made it through stage two of a three-stage screening process.
- the submitting of initial applications
- awarding of conditional approval(s);
- and granting of pharmaceutical processor permit(s)
Before the five dispensary permits are totally finalized and granted, the companies are still required to go through rigorous criminal background checks.
Limitations of Pharmaceutical Processors
Technically referred to as “Pharmaceutical Processors,” these companies once approved, will be allowed to “cultivate cannabis plants for the production and dispensing of cannabidiol (CBD) oil or THC-A oil,” according to the Virginia State Board of Pharmacy’s September newsletter.
To be clear, that means no flower!
Not only are these Pharmaceutical Processors limited to cannabinoid oils only, but their facilities must also operate under pharmacist oversight pursuant to Section 54.1-3408.3.
Why Only 5 Medical Marijuana Dispensaries?
Since Virginia is broken into five different “health service areas,” there will be one medical marijuana dispensary in each and are expected to be open for business within 12 months.
On September 25th, 2018 conditional approval was issued to:
- Pharmacann (Health Service Area I)
- Dalitso (Health Service Area II)
- Dharma (Health Service Area III)
- Green Leaf Medical (Health Service Area IV)
- Columbia Care (Health Service Area V)
Many of the companies, like Columbia Care which was issued a conditional approval in the Commonwealth of Virginia, have already won licenses in other states. This means further expansion of their multi-state cannabis empires.
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