Virginia Medical Marijuana

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What is Medical Marijuana in Virginia?

In Virginia, medical marijuana, weed, or cannabis treatments and medications utilize chemicals present in marijuana, to treat or ease symptoms of numerous medical conditions. The cannabis plant contains more than one hundred distinct chemicals known as cannabinoids such as delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), which have been proven to be effective in treating several symptoms of numerous debilitating medical conditions in Virginia. The Virginia HB1251 bill grants Virginians access to weed by permitting state-licensed physicians to recommend medical cannabis use by Virginia patients with medical conditions capable of benefiting from it. These recommendations are used in obtaining MMJ cards to buy, possess, and grow weed within Virginia. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy regulates cannabis medical use and administration of MMJ cards within the state; the board operates under the state's department of health professionals.

Is Medical Marijuana Legal in Virginia?

Yes. Passed in 1979, Virginia's medical marijuana law, a provision in the state's criminal code, permitted Virginians with valid doctor prescriptions to use medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of glaucoma or the side effects of chemotherapy. In 2017, the Virginia General Assembly approved a bill allowing access to THCA or CBD oil for residents diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. In 2018, a bill signed by Governor Ralph Northam provided more Virginians with access to medical marijuana by permitting physicians to recommend medicinal marijuana to any patient who may benefit.

The Board of Pharmacy regulates medical marijuana products in the state and operates under the Virginia Department of Health Professions. Patients registered in the medical marijuana registry can purchase cannabis oil with 5 milligrams of CBD or THCA but no more than 10mg THC per dose from approved pharmaceutical processors. In the Commonwealth, medical marijuana is available as sprays, capsules, oils, tinctures, creams, gels, patches, lozenges, troches, lollipops, suppositories, and inhalation products. In 2021, the Virginia legislature passed legislation (HB 2218/SB 1333) to allow registered patients to use whole plant, "botanical" cannabis.

Who Can Get Medical Marijuana in Virginia?

Any Virginian who has obtained certification from an approved healthcare provider for a qualifying medical condition may get medical marijuana in the Commonwealth. Virginia defines a qualifying condition as any medical condition identified by the state's Bureau of Health as a chronic or debilitating condition that, in the professional determination of a physician, may be treated by medical marijuana.

Debilitation conditions for which Virginia physicians issue medical marijuana certifications include:

  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Hepatitis C
  • Autism
  • Anxiety
  • Cancer
  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hepatitis C
  • Huntington's disease
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Glaucoma
  • Cachexia
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn's disease
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Tourette's syndrome

Can You Grow Medical Marijuana in Virginia?

Yes. Virginians aged 21 or older can grow up to four marijuana plants per household. Cultivated plants may only be grown at primary places of residence. Individuals growing marijuana must ensure that plants are not visible from public areas and take adequate precautions to prevent unauthorized access to persons under the age of 21. Proper measures must also be taken to mitigate the odor from the cultivation area. Virginia marijuana growing regulations also require each marijuana plant cultivated to be tagged with the cultivator's name, driver's license or identification number, and a notation that the cultivated plant is being grown for personal use.

Home-grown marijuana may not be sold or distributed. Virginia marijuana growers may also not manufacture marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana.

Do You Need to See a Doctor to Get Medical Marijuana in Virginia?

In order to get medical marijuana in Virginia, you must register with the state's Board of Pharmacy as a registered patient for cannabis oil or a registered parent or guardian of a patient approved for cannabis oil. However, in order to be registered with the Board, you must obtain a written certification from a healthcare practitioner registered with the Board of Pharmacy. Initially, only a healthcare provider licensed as a Doctor of Medicine or Doctor of Osteopathy was authorized to issue medical cannabis certifications. However, a new law passed in 2019 permitted physician assistants and nurse practitioners to issue written certifications to qualified patients.

The Virginia Department of Health Professions maintains a list of registered practitioners for medical cannabis on its website. Patients may find approved healthcare providers qualified to issue medical cannabis certifications in their counties on the list.

Can a Minor Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Virginia?

No. Although minors are not issued medical marijuana cards in Virginia, the state allows them to use medical marijuana under the medical marijuana program by designating caregivers. The parent or legal guardian of a minor can help them access medical cannabis if they have been diagnosed with a qualifying medical condition and have obtained a medical marijuana certification from a physician registered with the Board of Pharmacy.

How to Apply for a Medical Marijuana Card in Virginia

To be eligible to apply for a medical marijuana card in Virginia, you must be 18 or older and have obtained a medical cannabis certification. Upon obtaining a certification, visit the Virginia Board of Pharmacy Initial Application Site to initiate the first part of the application process. To complete the application, you will need the following:

  • A copy of the written medical cannabis certification issued by a registered practitioner
  • Proof of residency of the qualifying patient and proof of residency of a parent or legal guardian, if applicable. A State of Virginia-issued identification card or tax receipt will suffice
  • Proof of identity of the qualifying patient and, if you are applying as a minor, proof of identity of the parent or legal guardian in the form of a government-issued identification card
  • Proof of the qualifying patient's age in the form of a birth certificate or other government-issued identification

You may send the documents via email to cbd@dhp.virgnia.gov, by fax to (804) 527-4472, or by mail to:

Virginia Board of Pharmacy

Perimeter Center

9960 Mayland Drive

Suite 300

Henrico, VA 23233-1463

Once the Board of Pharmacy receives your application, allow for 60 days for review of the application. You will be notified by email once the application is approved. For more information on obtaining a medical marijuana card in Virginia, contact the Virginia Board of Pharmacy at (804) 367-4456 or review the patient registration instructions guide.

Does Virginia Allow Medical Marijuana Patients to Designate Caregivers?

Yes. Minors and incapacitated adults in Virginia can designate caregivers to assist them with obtaining and using medical marijuana. Caregivers are referred to as registered agents under the Virginia medical marijuana program. A registered agent is an individual who has been designated by a patient with a written medical marijuana certification or, if the patient is a minor or an incapacitated adult, designated by the patient's parent or legal guardian, and approved by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy. Following an agreement with the patient or patient's parent or legal guardian, the designated individual assists in purchasing, transporting, and administering medical marijuana.

No registered agent in Virginia may serve more than two registered patients. Individuals may not act in the capacity of caregivers or registered agents unless they have registered and been approved by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.

What Is the Cost of a Virginia Medical Marijuana Card?

The registration fee for a medical marijuana card for a patient in Virginia is $50, while the registration fee for a caregiver is $25. The fee may be paid using a credit or debit card issued by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express. Note that both initial and renewal fees are non-refundable. Registrations and certifications are valid for one year. The renewal fees are $50 and $25 for patients and caregivers respectively.

What Do You Need When Visiting a Medical Marijuana Dispensary in Virginia?

To purchase medical marijuana from a licensed medical cannabis dispensary in Virginia, you need:

  • A valid State of Virginia-issued identification; and
  • A medical marijuana card; and
  • A printed copy of your active Virginia medical marijuana certification

However, according to HB 933, a medical marijuana card will become optional from July 1, 2022. Then, valid state-issued identification and a written certification from a healthcare practitioner registered with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy will suffice to purchase medical marijuana at Virginia dispensaries.

How to Renew Your Virginia Medical Marijuana Card

You can start the renewal process for your medical marijuana card once you receive a renewal notification email from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy. The notification email will contain a link to the license renewal application site and require you to have an active and valid medical cannabis recommendation to begin the renewal process. The renewal process is similar to the application steps for the initial registration and also requires that you pay the annual registration renewal fee.

After completing the renewal process and making the required payment, you may continue to use the current medical marijuana card, even with an expired registration, at approved dispensaries to obtain medical cannabis products. The dispensary will use the active written certification and photo identification to verify online that you hold current and valid registration as a medical marijuana patient.

Is it Possible to Overdose on Cannabis in Virginia?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness Virginia [NAMI], there have been no cases of lethal cannabis overdoses in Virginia. Although a lethal overdose is uncertain contrary to other drugs like opioids, that doesn't imply cannabis is completely safe. The feelings a person might get from excessive cannabis use is almost similar to the regular effects of using marijuana but more severe, these indicators include;

  • Extreme confusion.
  • Anxiety, paranoia.
  • Delusions or hallucinations.
  • High temperatures.
  • Increased blood pressure.

These effects in extreme cases can lead to unintended self-inflicted injury such as accidents, falling, and self-poisoning.

If I am Pregnant, Can I Use Cannabis to Relieve Nausea in Virginia?

The Center for Disease Control Prevention(CDC) warns against the use of marijuana during pregnancy due to chemicals found in cannabis, being unsafe to an unborn baby's health and capable of causing several problems, including preterm birth, stillbirth, and developmental issues in infants.

Being smoked, eaten(edibles), or vaped, cannabis remains potent with some level of THC, a mind-altering compound proven to be dangerous to infants, which makes its use during pregnancy very risky for a developing baby's health. These chemicals are capable of reaching infants through their mother's placenta during pregnancy and through breastfeeding after birth.

Virginia Medical Marijuana
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