Virginia lawmakers pass 'landmark' medical marijuana bill - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

Virginia lawmakers pass 'landmark' medical marijuana bill

Medical marijuana passes in VA (Source: NBC12) Medical marijuana passes in VA (Source: NBC12)

Virginia's lawmakers passed a bill which will allow for the eventual production and distribution of marijuana oils in the Commonwealth. After lengthy discussions and negotiations, SB701 passed both the House and the Senate unanimously. 

This legislation seeks to create a way to process and provide THCa and CBD Oils for patients with intractable epilepsy.

"This is a landmark victory," said Jenn Michelle Pedini with Cannabis Commonwealth. "There have been years of blood, sweat and tears that we have poured into achieving these very minor reforms."

The bill only applies to intractable epilepsy patients. "It is a type of medical discrimination," said Pedini. "Why is a child dying form cancer less important than a child suffering from intractable epilepsy?"

Marijuana is still illegal at the federal and state level, but manufacturers and families will now be able to request certificates from a doctor or board of health that gives you an "affirmative defense" for having the cannabis oil.

"And let me tell you something ... The greatest allies I had in this were the families of these kids. They were relentless. They were positive," said bill sponsor Sen. David Marsden.

Families who need the medical marijuana will have to wait at least a year to see the benefits as the Board of Pharmacy creates regulations for the product.

"The fact is this is a southern state. It is a conservative state, but we are on the way," said Marsden. "We've made some progress here. It's going to help children. It is going to help families.

Pedini said the fight continues to remove the restrictions on who gets the medical marijuana.

"Next year, we will actually have more patients be visible in the general assembly," he said. "These are healthcare decisions that deserve the attention of a physician, not a lawmaker."

Lawmakers still have to sign off on those regulations. Marsden said the earliest SB701 could take effect is July 1, 2017.

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