The Virginia Legislature has approved a bill to add flower products to the state’s medical cannabis program. The measure had strong bipartisan support, passing the House on Monday 90-7 with 2 abstentions and the Senate 34-5 on Tuesday.
In a statement, Virginia NORML Executive Director Jenn Michelle Pedini praised the measure, noting that flower “remains the most popular formulation among consumers and among older consumers in particular.”
“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.” – Pedini in a statement
Virginia’s first medical cannabis dispensary only opened last October. Once the bill is signed into law by Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam – which is expected – it will take effect July 1 and flower is expected to become available to patients by September, NORML said.
According to a Daily Progress report, there are currently just about 10,000 medical cannabis patients in Virginia, but the state’s medical cannabis producers had testified that allowing flower would dramatically increase patients in the program.
Virginia also appears imminently poised to legalize cannabis for adult use. Both chambers have passed separate bills to enact the reforms and now face a Saturday deadline to come to a compromise on the proposals, Marijuana Moment reports. While the bills largely do the same thing, the House version would not enact any cannabis criminal reforms until sales launch in 2024, while the Senate version would legalize possession later this year. There are also issues about whether to allow vertical integration and the role of current medical cannabis operators.
Northam included legalization in his 2016 campaign platform with a lofty goal of enacting the reforms in his first 100 days. Last November, he again signaled his support for legalizing cannabis for adults, including criminal justice reforms.
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