The medical cannabis market in Virginia just got cleared for an express lane.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed into law this week legislation to eliminate the requirement that people register with the state’s Board of Pharmacy before being cleared to buy medical cannabis products from approved sellers in the commonwealth.
The new rule, which goes into effect July 1, is aimed in part at clearing a backlog of 8,000 registration requests from consumers waiting to buy from the handful of medical operators that are the only companies legally allowed to grow, process and sell non-CBD cannabis products in Virginia.
Del. Roxann Robinson, who sponsored the House version of the legislation, said the bill came about after she was approached by medical cannabis operators that wanted to improve peoples’ access to their products.
“By eliminating the Board of Pharmacy registration, patients will have quicker access in acquiring their therapeutic prescriptions of medical cannabis,” Robinson said in an email.
Registration with the state’s Board of Pharmacy entails a fee and 60-day waiting period.
There are currently about 47,000 medical cannabis patients registered with the state, according to Board of Pharmacy spokeswoman Diane Powers.
Patients will still be required to secure written certification from registered health care practitioners before they can buy medical cannabis products. Registration with the state will be required until the law takes effect.
Medical cannabis operators would report the number of new certifications received monthly to the board under the new law.
Phil Goldberg of Green Leaf Medical, the Richmond region’s lone medical cannabis operator, didn’t respond to a phone message left Tuesday. A spokeswoman for Columbia Care, which is Green Leaf’s parent company and holder of the license to sell medical cannabis in eastern Virginia, didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.
Green Leaf operates a processing and growing facility and dispensary at 2804 Decatur St. in South Richmond. The company also has a dispensary in Short Pump and plans to open one in Carytown.
Aside from Green Leaf and Columbia Care, the active operators in the state’s medical cannabis industry are Jushi Holdings (Northern Virginia) and Green Thumb Industries (southwestern Virginia). The companies are able to sell marijuana flowers and joints, among other products.
Cresco Labs, a Chicago-based cannabis company, recently announced plans to acquire Columbia Care later this year.
The more expedient process for medical sales comes as legislation to launch a full recreational retail market was recently defeated in the General Assembly.
In addition to medical users, cannabis is legal in Virginia for personal recreational use and limited personal cultivation.