Individuals and entities intending to grow cannabis for commercial purposes in Virginia are required to be duly licensed by the appropriate regulatory authority. Currently, both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Medical marijuana was legalized in 2019 when the Virginia General Assembly enacted laws to protect certified patients against prosecution for possession of cannabis. Adult-use marijuana became legal on July 1, 2021, after House Bill 2312 was also passed by the Virginia Legislature. This bill legalized the possession of 1 ounce of marijuana by adults aged 21 years and older. Any adult over 21 years is allowed to cultivate up to four marijuana plants (per household) without a license, provided it is for their personal use. The laws also limited the number of available marijuana cultivation facility permits to 450.
According to the adult-use cannabis laws in Virginia, retail sales of adult-use cannabis will commence on July 1, 2024. This is to enable the stakeholders to establish the necessary framework for administering and regulating the cultivation, processing, transportation, and sales of cannabis in the state. Medical cannabis in Virginia is regulated by the Board of Pharmacy, while adult-use cannabis will be regulated by the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority.
A marijuana cultivation facility license in Virginia enables the license holder to:
The Cannabis Control Authority will issue two classes of the marijuana cultivation facility license:
Class A marijuana cultivation facility license - This class of license authorizes the holder to either cultivate a specific number of marijuana plants or cultivate marijuana plants within a specified area (not more than 1,500 square feet). The number of plants and the area for cultivation will be determined by the board of the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA).
Class B marijuana cultivation facility license - This class of license authorizes the holder to cultivate marijuana plants with THC concentrations of no more than 1%, as determined post-decarboxylation.
Currently, in Virginia, the only means of legally growing marijuana for commercial purposes requires the possession of a Pharmaceutical Processor permit. This permit is issued to eligible residents and entities, in line with the medical marijuana regulations in the state. A pharmaceutical processor permit enables the permit holder to grow and maintain up to 12 cannabis plants for each of their patients at any given time.
Virginia marijuana laws place no restrictions on who can grow marijuana in Virginia, provided the person possesses a valid cultivation facility or pharmaceutical processor license. Virginia recreational marijuana laws prioritize social equity applicants and establish a Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board to provide resources to support these applicants. Social equity applicants refer to residents of the state who have been disproportionately impacted by the effects of law enforcement on marijuana-related crimes. Virginia laws seek to address the disinvestment, violence, and historical overuse of the criminal justice system against certain communities and individuals. The state wants to create an inclusive market by focusing on communities where the war on drugs has a disproportionately worse effect.
To qualify for social equity status in the state, the applicant must have resided in the Commonwealth of Virginia for up to 12 months. The following conditions also apply:
Social equity applicants will receive preference from July 1, 2023, until January 1, 2024, and authorities will also waive a certain percentage of their application fees.
Regulations for the establishment of licensing for cannabis business operations in Virginia will not be available until July 1, 2022. SB 1406 was passed in a special session and, as such, has to be re-enacted or passed again by the Virginia General Assembly in 2022. If this is successful, the licensing process itself will not commence until July 1, 2023.
Generally, an applicant for a marijuana cultivation facility license in Virginia will be required to:
The Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) will inform the public when applications for marijuana cultivation facility licenses are available. Residents can sign up on the CCA webpage to receive notifications from the CCA on the availability of licenses and other updates.
Currently, to grow marijuana in Virginia, interested persons will need to obtain a Pharmaceutical Processor permit from the Board of Pharmacy. Amendments to the medical marijuana laws in Virginia currently enable pharmaceutical processors to cultivate marijuana for commercial purposes. A pharmaceutical processor is a facility licensed to grow cannabis plants for medical cannabis and permitted to dispense cannabis products to registered patients in the state.
To obtain a pharmaceutical processor permit in Virginia, the applicant must submit a completed Application for a Pharmaceutical Processor Permit Form and the required documents as:
The application and all supporting documents should be mailed or hand-delivered to:
Department of Health Professions
Board of Pharmacy
9960 Mayland Drive,
Henrico, VA 23233
There is also a non-refundable fee that must be paid when submitting an application for a processor permit. Pharmaceutical processor permits are valid for one year and must be renewed for the license holders to maintain their statutory rights.
The Board of Pharmacy issues request for applications (RFAs) to solicit applications for permits to operate as pharmaceutical processors in a designated Health Service Area (HSA). The Board may issue or renew up to five permits, one for each established HSA. Presently, all five permits for pharmaceutical processors have either been awarded or the application period has closed.
The Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) has not disclosed the cost of recreational marijuana cultivation facility licenses. The CCA cannot adopt regulations on licensing cannabis business operations until July 1, 2022. Consequently, applications for recreational cannabis cultivation facility licenses cannot commence until July 1, 2023. Hence, there is currently no established fee for obtaining a marijuana cultivation facility license in Virginia.
A pharmaceutical processor permit, which enables holders to cultivate medical marijuana and dispense it to registered patients, has a $10,000 application fee. Successful applicants must also pay a $60,000 fee before they are issued their permits. Pharmaceutical processor permits are only valid for one year and must be renewed annually. The renewal fee for a pharmaceutical processor permit in Virginia is $10,000.
The adult-use cannabis laws in Virginia permit the Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) to grant interests in multiple cannabis license categories to “certain persons.” The law does not specify what constitutes “certain persons,” and the CCA is expected to provide clarification when it adopts the regulations for licensing cannabis businesses. However, a pharmaceutical processor license enables the licensee to cultivate cannabis plants and process the flowers into cannabis products such as concentrates, edibles, and beverages.