Can I get a medical cannabis card in Virginia?
Yes, patients, parents, and legal guardians may now apply to obtain registration from the Board of Pharmacy. A patient, parent, or legal guardian must have a written certification issued to them by a registered practitioner prior to applying for registration with the Board of Pharmacy and possessing medical cannabis products.
In addition to being issued a valid written certification from a Board of Pharmacy-registered physician, the patient and, if such patient is a minor or an incapacitated adult as defined in 18.2-369, such patient's parent or guardian, must obtain registration from the Board of Pharmacy. The written certification alone no longer satisfies the conditions for asserting an affirmative defense.
How do I register?
Please visit How to Register for more information.
Is there a list of physicians who will make recommendations?
Yes, please visit Find a Doctor for more information on finding a registered practitioner.
Can my doctor make a recommendation for me?
Only registered physicians may issue the required written certification. Talk to your doctor and ask if she knows about the change in law. Share the with her the eighth edition of Emerging Clinical Applications for Cannabis and Cannabinoids, A Review of Scientific Literature. Ask her to register with the Board of Pharmacy.
Did Virginia legalize medical marijuana?
No, marijuana possession remains illegal in Virginia. The legislature has chosen to provide an affirmative defense for registered patients, caregivers, and pharmaceutical processors.
When did the law take effect?
The original affirmative defense law was passed in 2015 for intractable epilepsy and expanded in 2018 for any condition as recommended by a practitioner.
What’s affirmative defense?
Affirmative defense defeats or mitigates the legal consequences of the defendant’s otherwise unlawful conduct. While it will not be legal, technically, to possess the oils, a patient or their caregiver would be able to present their registration if they were stopped by law enforcement or in a court of law as their defense for possession of the oil.
To assert the affirmative defense, an unexpired valid written certification issued from a board-registered physician and a current active patient and/or caregiver registration issued by the Board of Pharmacy is necessary.
Affirmative defense guidelines
- Keep your certification with your oil at all times.
- Present your certification if questioned by law enforcement.
- If not accepted and charged with possession, call an attorney or ask for court-appointed counsel.
- Present your signed certification 10 days prior to trial as directed.
How will patients get medical cannabis products?
In 2017, Virginia approved a regulatory program for the in-state production of medical cannabis oils by five providers initially, one per Health Service Area (HSA), who will grow, extract, dispense and deliver the medical cannabis oils. These licensed providers are called “pharmaceutical processors” in the Code, and are simply vertically-integrated dispensaries, meaning everything from growth through dispensation is done on one site by one provider. Patients and caregivers may now register with the program. Once facilities are operational in late 2019, patients will be able to fill their recommendation at one of five “pharmaceutical processors” in Virginia.
Where will the pharmaceutical processors be located?
|HSA III||Dharma Pharmaceuticals||Bristol|
|HSA IV||Green Leaf Medical of Virginia||Richmond|
|HSA V||Columbia Care||Portsmouth|
What do I do in the meantime?
While it is illegal to transport any marijuana products across any state lines, that is exactly what many patients have been doing since the law took effect in 2015. Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have regulated adult-use and operational dispensaries. Maine, Vermont and the District of Columbia do not have operational adult-use dispensaries.
No states have yet signaled that they are offering reciprocity to Virginia patients. That may change with the newly implemented registration process in Virginia. Sign up for our newsletter and follow Cannabis Commonwealth for up-to-date patient and provider information to stay up to date.
Many patients and families we’ve worked with in the General Assembly speak highly of Haleigh’s Hope, which is produced organically in Colorado under strict consumer safety guidelines.
Is this only for oils?
No, SB1557 clarifies that any formulation may be dispensed. Patients can expect to see preparations typical of compounding pharmacies, like capsules, sprays, tinctures, oils, creams, gels, lozenges, patches, troches, suppositories, and lollipops.
Is it only CBD or low-THC preparations?
No, the products must contain at least 5 mg of CBD or at least 5 mg of THCA per dose and may contain no more than 10 mg THC per dose. “Dose" means a single unit, like one capsule or one dropperful. “Dosage" is the total amount taken each time, for example 2 sprays 4 time per day. There are no limits on dosage.
Are flower or edibles allowed?
No, the affirmative defense does not apply to flower, to food products, or to preparations outside the allowed cannabinoid amounts.
Will doctors write prescriptions for medical cannabis?
No, doctors in the US cannot “prescribe" medical cannabis, but they can recommend it. Virginia practitioners issue written certifications, not prescriptions.
Are the oils psychoactive?
Yes, psychoactive means to affect the brain. Psychoactive does not mean intoxicating, psychotropic or hallucinogenic. (Also, marijuana is not hallucinogenic).
If CBD were not psychoactive, it would not be an anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, or antidepressant. It is accurate to instead say CBD products are non-intoxicating.
Preparations that contain higher amounts of THC may be intoxicating to some users.
Isn’t CBD already legal in all 50 states?
No, cannabidiol (CBD), like all organic cannabinoids, is considered by DEA, Congress, FDA, and NIDA to be a schedule I controlled substance under federal law. The DEA recently reaffirmed its position here.
Yeah, but if it’s from hemp it's totally legal, right?
The DEA does not agree with this position. States the DEA: “Section 7606 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 authorizes institutions of higher education (e.g., universities) and state Departments of Agriculture to grow and cultivate ‘industrial hemp’ (defined under the Act as marijuana with a THC content of 0.3 percent or less) for agricultural research purposes where permitted under state law. However, the Agricultural Act of 2014 does not permit such entities, or anyone else, to produce non-FDA-approved drug products made from cannabis.” In February 2018, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco heard oral arguments in the Hemp Industries Association’s petition challenging the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s position. The Court denied the petition, upholding the DEA’s classification.
But you can already buy CBD oil online!
That doesn’t make it federally legal. These products are not required to meet any safety, quality, consistency, or labeling standards. Buyer beware!
Can I get medical cannabis at a medical dispensary in another state?
Maybe. States that offer reciprocity might allow you to purchase medicine for use while in that state. Calling the dispensary you plan to visit is the best way to answer that question. Washington, DC did not include Virginia in its list of states to which it offers reciprocity. Maryland’s program intended to allow non-resident participation but is still denying out-of-state applicants.
Remember, make good choices.
- Don't consume your medicine in public.
- Don't take it out of your home unless absolutely necessary.
- Keep your signed certificate with the oil at all times.
- If you must travel with your medicine, place it in a locked container in your trunk.
- Don't drive impaired. Ever.
- Don't post on social media about your medicine.
I have more questions!
Great! We’re here to help. Feel free to contact Virginia NORML at 804-464-7050 Monday through Friday from 9AM to 6PM.