Virginia: Governor Northam approves botanical medical cannabis bills

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Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed House Bill 2218 and Senate Bill 1333, which amended the state’s Access to Medicinal Cannabis Act to allow the manufacture and sale of botanical cannabis products. The measure will take effect on July 1, 2021 and the products are expected to be available as early as September.

Under the state’s existing medical marijuana law, licensed growers were required to process cannabis into non-herbal formulations such as oils and tinctures. The new measure expands the pool of legal products to include products that consist of either “cannabis oil or botanical cannabis”.

Jenn Michelle Pedini of NORML, who also serves as Executive Director for Virginia NORML, praised the legislation. “Botanical cannabis continues to be the most popular formulation with consumers and especially older consumers. Limiting patient options to extracted oral formulations is not in their best interests. Botanical cannabis contains more than 100 different cannabinoids, many of which work synergistically with one another. This is an effect that many scientists believe is necessary for patients to get the maximum therapeutic benefit. “

The medical cannabis dispensaries started operating in Virginia in the fall of 2020. If the upcoming laws are approved, pharmacies are expected to have botanical cannabis available to registered patients as early as September 2021.

An operational improvement law, House Bill 1988, was also signed by Governor Northam to ensure patients in hospices and other residential settings have access to medical cannabis and to receive permanently improved telemedicine allowances during the public health crisis were adopted.

Separate legislation to legalize adult possession of marijuana and license retail sales is awaiting action from Governor Northam, who continues to offer his public support for the legislation supported by 68 percent of Virginians.

See Virginia NORML for more information.

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