Cannabis oil is coming to Virginia after unanimous approval

Matt Saintsing
February 06, 2018 - 12:07 pm

Photo by C.M. Guerrero/Miami Herald/TNS


Sweeping changes to Virginia’s marijuana laws are on the horizon after the state’s legislature unanimously approved a bill expanding cannabidiol (CBD) to anyone who needs it.

The legislation will permit medical doctors in the state to prescribe CBD, or THA-A oil, for any “diagnosed condition or disease,” including post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety and other medical conditions impacting veterans.

“I finally decided that I needed to advocate for the physicians being the decision makers,” said Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, the chief patron of the Senate bill. “We, physicians, are the ones that follow the literature and know which treatments are best for different conditions. The literature on medical cannabis is going to be evolving rapidly now, and because of this, it is not a decision that should be in the hands of the legislature. Instead, it should be with physicians.”

As the commonwealth struggles with a worsening opioid crisis, supporters of the initiative say they hope the new law will decrease opioid deaths as medical marijuana, and CBD, has been associated with fewer opioid fatalities.

Virginia loses three people every day to opioid overdose.

Governor Ralph Northam, a medical doctor, is expected to sign the bill into law.

As of 2013, Virginia had more than 750,000 veterans living in the state representing about 12 percent of the total population.

CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it doesn’t get patients high, as it’s derived from a part of the marijuana plant that doesn’t contain high levels of the psychoactive compound THC.

Other bills have failed for years in the state legislature, although a bill passed in 2017 that limited cannabis oils to treat “intractable epilepsy” only.

In recent years, mountains of scientific peer-reviewed studies have indicated that the oils can treat a myriad of medical conditions and can alleviate pain.

The law passed Monday doesn’t allow for marijuana flower to be produced in the state, or for patients to get a recommendation from a doctor to use it. The bill does, however, seek requests for proposals for five growing and distribution facilities.

Both patients and physicians will be required to register with the State Board of Medicine to have access to the oil.

Starting a medical marijuana industry from scratch can be expensive, and time-consuming. Neighboring state Maryland had to wait four years before growers, producers and retail sellers were licensed before opening its first medical marijuana dispensary last year.

The bill was able to clear the state’s legislature due to grassroots lobbying efforts by families, patients and a growing scientific literature indicating marijuana may be used to treat some medical conditions.