Medical cannabis producers in Virginia will be allowed to sell the plant’s unprocessed flower for the first time under legislation that’s quietly made its way through the General Assembly with broad, bipartisan support.
The industry and its supporters in the legislature pitched the move as an effort to make the products more affordable to patients than the highly processed oils, tinctures and edibles that producers are currently permitted to sell.
“Botanical cannabis remains the most popular formulation among consumers and among older consumers in particular,” said Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML, the state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform Marijuana Laws.
“Limiting patients’ options to extracted oral formulations is not in their best interests. Botanical cannabis contains more than 100 distinct cannabinoids, many of which act synergistically with one another, producing an effect many scientists believe is necessary in order for patients to achieve maximum therapeutic benefit.”
Virginia’s medical marijuana program began when the legislature was still under Republican control with assurances that it would only permit the sale of non-intoxicating preparations of the drug, with a focus on treating children who suffer from epilepsy.
In the years since, it’s been steadily expanded to allow the sale of a range of high-THC products, from vape cartridges to suppositories. The new allowance to sell marijuana in its raw, smokable form would bring Virginia in line with 32 of the 36 other states with medical marijuana programs, according to the legislation’s supporters.
The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.