Medical cannabis facilities set to open in the Commonwealth by mid-summer

Could cannabis be heading to the Commonwealth?(nbc12)
Updated: Jan. 11, 2020 at 7:04 PM EST

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The major topic coming out of Saturday’s 2020 Cannabis Conference held at the Delta Hotel in Richmond was the news of five processing facilities opening in the Commonwealth which will produce medical cannabis under the state’s medical cannabis program.

Virginia is just the latest to join a growing list of states that are stepping into the medical marijuana business.

In total there will be five processor plants each located in a health service area of the Commonwealth. Aaron Lopez is the public affairs director for the facility located in northern Virginia.

“Everything is from the ground up and in a matter of months, you’re going to see several of them come online,” said Lopez. “We’ve been on a mission to educate the public and legislators on exactly what a medical program looks like and there’s been an evolutionary state of it since the beginning of the program.”

The medical cannabis program started back in 2015 and has been building up the operation of the five facilities across the state.

Once the facilities are open for operations, they will be the only locations a person can obtain medical cannabis.

“We grow, process, and then dispense all under one building. these are 90,000 square foot buildings where you’re growing everything inside to protect the plants from outside environments and contaminants.”

In order to come to these facilities to obtain medical marijuana, an individual must go through the certification process, which can be done by a medical professional.

“They need to be certified, they need to see a doctor and then when they come and visit us they will sit down with a pharmacist to go through all of the drugs that they are currently taking to make sure that this is something that will be beneficial for them,” said Lopez. “The doctor is involved, the patient is involved and a pharmaceutical processor is involved to really target that patient on what it is their ailment needs help with.”

“What we’re really going to look at as well is what drugs are they taking, whether they have other health issues and we want to make sure that whatever cannabis product they’re taking that it doesn’t interact negatively with that," said Lopez.

While the state is still far from completely legalizing marijuana, steps are being made to decriminalize its possession.

“Governor Northam is prioritizing the decriminalization of personal marijuana possession this session senate bill 2 by Senator Adam Ebbin does just that,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, Director of Virginia NORML.

“Is this the solution for everything? It isn’t, but can it help some and if it can we should definitely invest in it look in it and see what it can do for those patients," said Lopez

All five production facilities are expected to open sometime midsummer. The Cannabis Conference continues through Sunday.

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