By Ben Burstein
Capital News Service
RICHMOND -- Virginians with a doctor’s recommendation soon will have access to CBD and THC-A oil dispensaries throughout the state. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy has approved five companies to open the dispensaries -- one in each of the commonwealth’s five health service areas.
The dispensaries will provide CBD and THC-A oils to approved patients only. The Board of Pharmacy met in private to review 51 applicants before selecting five: PharmaCann, Dalitso, Dharma Pharmaceuticals, Green Leaf Medical and Columbia Care. Background checks will be conducted before each company receives a license.
There are no scheduled opening dates for the dispensaries, but it’s possible they could be operational by winter.
"Under the terms of their conditional approval, they all have to be open by the end of 2019," said Diane Powers, director of communications for the Virginia Department of Health Professions. The companies do not have to operate on any other specific timeline.
The dispensaries will offer welcome relief to patients suffering from a range of health problems, according to medical cannabis advocates. Legislation passed in 2018 allows medical practitioners to issue a certification for CBD or TCH-A oils for patients who would benefit from such substances. Dispensaries are only able to provide up to a 90-day supply at a time.
Stephanie Anderson of Richmond is considering CBD oil as an alternative treatment for her son's ADHD. She wanted her son to have safe and legal access to CBD products.
"I've been hesitant to try CBD from online sources, so the idea of having in-state pharmaceutical processors puts my mind at ease," she said.
PharmaCann, founded in 2014, currently operates medical marijuana facilities in five other states and is licensed to operate in three more. Its dispensary will be in Staunton in Health Service Area I, which stretches from Fredericksburg to the Shenandoah Valley.
Dalitso is a Virginia-based company that will specialize in the production of CBD and THC-A oils. It is in the process of obtaining approval to open a processing facility in Prince William County. Dalitso will open a dispensary in Manassas, which will serve Health Service Area II, including Fairfax and Alexandria.
Dharma Pharmaceuticals will open its dispensary in Bristol, covering Health Service Area III, which encompasses southwest Virginia. Dharma is an international producer of medications for hepatitis, cancer and other diseases.
Green Leaf Medical will set up its dispensary in the Swansboro neighborhood in city of Richmond, serving the surrounding area south to Emporia in Health Service Area IV. Green Leaf is a producer of CBD and THC-A oils, along with other medical marijuana products available in almost 30 locations in Maryland.
Columbia Care will be based in Portsmouth and provide CBD and THC-A oils in Health Service Area V to residents in the Tidewater area to the Eastern Shore. Columbia Care is an international cannabis-focused health-care company with locations in 13 states, Puerto Rico and the Mediterranean nation of Malta.
Each dispensary submitted an initial $10,000 application fee. The permit fee is $60,000 and a dispensary must pay an additional $10,000 per year to renew its license.
Capital News Service is a program of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students in the program provide state government coverage for a variety of media outlets in Virginia.