Virginia Medical Cannabis Bills Clear Senate Committee


Richmond, Va — Three medical cannabis bills cleared the Senate Committee on Education and Health this morning and are headed to the Senate floor.

Senator Siobhan Dunnavant’s SB1557 would clarify last year’s landmark Let Doctors Decide medical cannabis legislation. It seeks to redefine allowed dosage limitations and formulations, and expand patient access and reduce patient cost by adding nurse practitioners and physician assistants to the list of those authorized to issue written certifications to patients. Currently, only physicians may register with the Department of Health Professions to issue certifications.

“Last year we passed unanimously the historic Let Doctors Decide bill that expanded patient access to our medical cannabis program,” said Senator Dunnavant, a medical doctor from Henrico. “We got a lot of things right, but there are some screws that can be tightened so the law better benefits the health and well-being of all Virginians.”

The bill would also allow Virginia’s licensed pharmaceutical processors to dispense medical cannabis preparations beyond the current definition of “oil” and in doses proven effective for the variety of disease processes for which doctors will recommend these therapies. Pharmacists at these facilities would be allowed to compound creams, sprays, capsules, suppositories, lozenges, and other preparations typically dispensed at compounding pharmacies.

Senator Glen Sturtevant’s (R-10) SB1632 seeks to allow medical cannabis administration on school property and at school events. 

“Virginia students and their families depend on new, safely produced and regulated cannabidiol and THCA oils to treat a host of potentially debilitating conditions. However, current laws cause significant burdens for families who need to provide these medications to their children, and cause serious disruptions every single day at school for students" said Senator Glen Sturtevant.
”This bill would authorize the Department of Health Professions and school boards to adopt the necessary policies for school nurses to administer these medications just like other medications administered to students, like antibiotics and Advil. This streamlined approach will keep kids in school and reduce classroom disruptions so that students can focus on their academic success."

Colorado, Illinois, and Florida allow school nurses to administer medical cannabis to students. Delaware, Maine and New Jersey allow medical cannabis use at school, Washington allow schools to create their own policies, and West Virginia directed education officials to create rules for use at school.

Delegate Chris Hurst's (D-12) companion legislation, HB1720, is before the House Courts of Justice Committee, which will decide the fate of the bill Friday afternoon.

Senator Dave Marsden’s SB1719 would allow “registered agents” for those patients physically unable to pick up or receive delivery of their medical cannabis, like those in hospice, assisted living facilities and those who rely on home healthcare providers.

“Patient access is critical to the success of Virginia’s medical cannabis program,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. “These bills help ensure that all patients are able to obtain and use the necessary therapeutic doses of their cannabis medicines regardless of location or physical ability."

Track these bills and all marijuana-related legislation in the 2019 General Assembly here.