In Virginia’s 2019 General Assembly (GA) Session, five of six proposed cannabis-related bills passed and will soon reach the desk of the Governor, ushering in some significant changes to the Commonwealth’s medical cannabis program. Among them, allowing full therapeutic-strength medical cannabis preparations, and the addition of physician assistants and nurse practitioners to the list of providers permitted to make medical cannabis recommendations.
On December 12, 2018, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill (The “Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018” or the “Bill”), which includes provisions that exempt Cannabis plants with lower than 0.3% THC content (also called “Hemp”) from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Once signed into law, the Farm Bill effectively legalizes the production, commercialization, and interstate shipment and sale of hemp and hemp-derived products like cannabidiol or “CBD”. Each state (including Indian Tribes and U.S. Territories) will eventually be able to regulate hemp production like any other agricultural commodity, as long as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) approves its plan to monitor and regulate the plant’s production.
On September 25, 2018, the Virginia Board of Pharmacy met in closed session for more than five hours before awarding five conditional permits to five separate companies who will likely become the first Pharmaceutical Processors of Medical Cannabis in Virginia. Following this exciting announcement, these conditional license permittees will undergo background checks and, upon satisfactory results, will begin the arduous process of creating Virginia’s first vertically integrated Medical Cannabis cultivation, manufacturing and retail facilities. The state’s program started in earnest in 2015, and due to the advocacy of Virginia patients, caregivers, legislators, and healthcare providers, expanded to its current state in just three short years.
In anticipation of the forthcoming issuance of Virginia’s first pharmaceutical processor licenses, the Virginia Cannabis Industry Association (VCIA) will host a launch event at O’Connor Brewing Co,’s Legalize Virginia Festival, Tuesday, September 18. VCIA’s mission is to represent Virginia medical cannabis business owners and industry stakeholders to advance legislation and bring the highest quality, safest, and most compliant medical cannabis products to consumers in the Commonwealth.
Virginia’s medical cannabis program is moving forward, with a notice of proposed regulations and a new physician registration form. However, the Board of Pharmacy, whose ad hoc committee is currently evaluating pharmaceutical processor applications, has signaled that it will not be announcing the conditional permit recipients at its August 14th meeting, as was previously expected. The 53 applicants to the Board may be looking at a delay of weeks or months.
In the meantime, physicians can begin to prepare for increased demand from Virginians for medical cannabis certifications by registering with the Board of Pharmacy using its new application form. Also, industry stakeholders have until August 22nd to comment on the proposed regulations to replace the emergency regulations adopted by the Board earlier this summer.
Nixon Law Group’s Cannabis attorneys assist clients with licensing for growing/cultivation, processing/extraction and dispensing; intellectual property; real estate and equipment leases, and business/corporate transactions.
On February 21, the Virginia House of Delegates voted 99-0 (1 abstention) to approve HB 1251, a bill that will dramatically expand the state’s medical cannabis laws. The bill was sent to Governor Ralph Northam for signature and – thanks to an emergency clause recommended by the Governor himself – will be effective immediately once he signs. With this bill, doctors will now be able to recommend the use of medical cannabis oil to patients with any diagnosed condition or disease that the doctor determines will benefit from such use.
Nixon Law Group, a Virginia-based boutique law firm representing clients in the healthcare industry exclusively, announced today that Kaitlyn O’Connor, Esq. has joined the firm as Counsel. Kaitlyn will be based in Nixon Law Group’s Richmond office, but will divide her time between Richmond and Williamsburg.