Medical marijuana access in Virginia has begun to take a very different shape as a new law has made it easier for a person to gain legal access.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed HB 933 and SB 671 earlier this year, making the process easier for patients. The change will also cut out the $50 medical license fee that was previously required. Hearings during the General Assembly produced little or no opposition to the change.
The new law went into effect Friday. Previously, the law requires a medical cannabis card issued by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, but starting Friday, patients will only need a written certification from a registered practitioner.
“It’s a huge win for the patients of the Commonwealth, which will really help drive the medical cannabis industry in Virginia,” said Trent Woloveck, Chief Commercial Director at Jushi, one of the companies that is authorized to grow, process and retail medical marijuana in the state.
It’s a move that will address the state’s backlog, which has left many frustrated. Before July 1, thousands of patients were waiting for board approval, however there are currently more than 50,000 patients registered in the state.
“That process to get that card back was taking upwards of 5 to 6 months, when your registration from your practitioner only lasted 12 months, so it was really the bottleneck in the process.” said Woloveck
JM Pedini is with NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, praised the bill, as it allowed Virginian to no longer have to wait for the all-clear from the state pharmacy board.
“We hear from dozens of patients each week who are trying to navigate the registration process, so this is a huge improvement and will make the process much easier for those looking to access medical cannabis in Virginia,” Pedini said Thursday afternoon.