October 22, 2020 03:00 pm ETEstimated Read Time: 4 Minutes
We are happy to report that Washington D.C. has finally expanded its reciprocity laws for medical cannabis to 5 additional states, including Virginia. In other words, Virginia medical cannabis patients will now be able to purchase their medicine from dispensaries in Washington D.C. This is great news considering that Virginia currently has very limited access to medical cannabis.
On October 21, 2020, the Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) announced a reciprocating extension to medical cannabis patients and caregivers from Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia. Previously, reciprocity recognized 27 states; now it is extended to 32 total states. The Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Support Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 authorized the transition of D.C.’s medical cannabis program from DC Health to ABRA. There are currently 5 operating medical cannabis dispensaries in D.C.
How Extended Reciprocity Opens Up More Options for Virginia Medical Cannabis Patients
This life-changing news for medical cannabis patients in the state of Virginia comes just 5 days after medical cannabis sales finally began there on October 17, 2020. Currently, Dharma Pharmaceuticals is the only regional licensed processing center open in Virginia, with Greenleaf expected to be the next to shortly follow.
Although Virginia’s medical cannabis program has been up and running since 2018, patients registered with the Virginia program have faced considerable barriers to purchasing their medicine. Up until now, Virginia patients have had no legal option for acquiring, possessing, or cultivating medical cannabis. Even patients registered with Virginia’s medical cannabis program faced legal ramifications.
Virginia’s medical cannabis laws only allow for regional processing centers, of which, there are only four in the entire state. Processing centers differ from dispensaries in that they are vertically integrated. This means that these facilities must cultivate, manufacture, and process all of their own products. There were originally 5 licenses awarded for processing centers; however, MedMen dropped its licensure leaving another slot open for the Staunton region.
Back in August 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office in D.C. announced that emergency rulemaking “will allow non-District residents with medical cannabis cards to purchase medical marijuana during their visits to Washington, D.C.” Although Virginia has had an active medical cannabis program, it was not until July 1, 2020, that Gov. Ralph Northam approved the decriminalization of cannabis possession, effectively granting legal protection for registered patients for the possession of medical cannabis products.
Washington D.C. is in very short proximity to the state of Virginia. In fact, many people often commute between the two. Now that D.C. has accepted Virginia’s medical program, it allows more opportunity for Virginia patients to have access. At this time, there are four dispensaries operating in Washington D.C.
The Benefits of Having a Medical Cannabis Card
Having a medical cannabis card opens up doors for patients and offers protection in the event of a legal situation. And in this instance, it helps to have one in the case of reciprocity. Registered medical marijuana patients in Virginia can now purchase medical cannabis from dispensaries in Washington D.C. In order to be recognized as a patient by D.C.’s medical program, the patient must be living in one of the District’s list of eligible states and must be undergoing an approved medical treatment or have a valid license from their home state.
Do be aware of the legalities when crossing state lines with cannabis and understand the risks involved. It is illegal to cross state lines with cannabis especially when laws differ drastically as it does between Washington D.C. and Virginia.
Virginia Medical Cannabis Laws
Virginia has one of the most stringent medical cannabis programs in the country. While the qualifying conditions and process to obtain a medical card remain fairly lax, the state places extremes on possession laws and products. The medical programs in other states mostly allow for patients to cultivate their own cannabis medicine; meanwhile, Virginia has strictly prohibited it. Virginia cannabis products are allowed a maximum of 10mg of THC per dose and must come in the form of vape cartridges, oils, tinctures, topicals, suppositories, lozenges, and gummies.
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