In Virginia, medical marijuana is slowly gaining ground. The most recent changes to the state’s laws allow a small number of companies to make and sell medical cannabis oil. Now, as Virginia weed businesses compete for five permits to produce oils, the competition for licenses has caught many state lawmakers off guard.
Virginia Is Giving Out Only Five Permits
But the number of licenses is very small. Five to be exact. Despite the small number of permits to be awarded, the state was reportedly inundated with applications from businesses trying to get in on Virginia’s medical marijuana market.
More specifically, 32 companies put in applications to receive a permit. Because some of those companies applied for a license to operate in more than one part of the state, there were a total of 51 separate applications.
Each applicant had to provide a detailed description of their proposed business model. In particular, they needed to show that their approach would align with all state restrictions and regulations. Additionally, applicants had to pay a one-time, non-refundable $10,000 application fee.
Initially, some state authorities hoped to issue permits earlier in the year. But a large number of applicants made that a challenge. Now, officials say they’re shooting to make all licensing decisions by the end of September.
Cannabis Oil In Virginia
All this activity is the latest chapter in Virginia’s ongoing, and sometimes strange, history with marijuana. Years ago, the state looked like it might become a pioneer in the world of legalization. That’s because, in 1979, the state approved medical marijuana for a small list of qualifying health conditions.
But that move ended up proving largely ineffective. Although medical marijuana was technically legal, the law required patients to get a doctor’s prescription first. But it was still illegal for doctors to prescribe marijuana. In the end, this first attempt at legalization didn’t really mean, do, or change anything.
Nothing really happened on the cannabis front until decades later. In 2015, the state passed a new piece of legislation. This one gave people with epilepsy an “affirmative defense” if they chose to use medical marijuana.
This change cleared the path for folks to be able to medicate. But the state once again negated its own laws, this time by failing to provide any way for companies to make and sell medical marijuana.
Most recently, lawmakers tried to change that. Earlier this year, the state pushed through a new system that allows for cannabis oil to be made and sold to patients.
This new change makes important strides forward. For starters, patients no longer need an actual prescription. Instead, a doctor’s recommendation is good enough. Similarly, it allows licensed companies to produce and sell cannabis oil to qualifying patients.
But at the same time, the state’s program continues to be very restrictive. For example, doctors and patients must both register with the state’s medical marijuana program.
Who Will Be Given Permits?
Further, companies that win permits to produce and sell cannabis oil have to follow strict guidelines. For starters, they have to do everything in the state of Virginia. More specifically, these companies will be required to grow their own plants, process the oils, and then sell the finished product all in the same location.
Finally, Virginia only allows for cannabis oil with less than five percent THC. So far, no smokable forms of medical marijuana are allowed.