Recreational cannabis use is legal in Virginia. It has been almost a year that this reality has been true. However, one glaring paradox remains. How can you get cannabis in Virginia if it is not legal to sell recreational cannabis?
Hard to Get
NBC 12 news reports “In February, Republicans in the House of Delegates killed legislation that would have allowed limited retail sales later this year. The state’s recreational market is scheduled to begin in 2024, but with a long regulatory road ahead, there’s a strong likelihood that products won’t become available until months or even years later, according to JM Pedini, development director of the National Organization for the Reform Marijuana Laws, or NORML. Virginia’s medical cannabis program is currently the only way for most residents to acquire cannabis.
NBC12 goes on to report “Currently, though, there are only 46,935 registered patients in Virginia, according to data from the Board of Pharmacy — a small number compared to the state’s overall population of more than 8.6 million…Pedini, who also serves as executive director of Virginia’s NORML chapter, said that’s largely due to barriers that still exist within the program, despite significant growth over the last three years.” It has been reported that a consistent problem has been the registration requirements for providers and patients frequently must face lengthy (months) waits to be able to use the medical program.
The Virginia Mercury reports that the Virginia “process is so slow — in terms of the full process to get a card, historically — that it’s been difficult,” said Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, a nurse practitioner who’s also registered with the state to certify patients for medical cannabis. “People can’t just access marijuana after an appointment the way you could for any other medical product in Virginia.” Additionally, many major hospital systems still forbid providers from offering certifications.
Medical vs. Recreational
The Virginia Mercury goes on to report “Medical cannabis is almost never covered by insurance, and providers often charge between $100 and $150 for a written certification. Products in Virginia often cost double what they do in other markets, including Washington, D.C., which some processors have attributed to the state’s extensive regulations”. In many ways the Virginia medical market is pricing themselves out of the marketplace.
So, what about recreational cannabis? “The challenges faced by many patients underscore Virginia’s strange regulatory landscape as a state where marijuana is legalized but a recreational market still doesn’t exist. Ashley Allen, the vice president of government relations for Columbia Care — one of the state’s licensed processors — said the industry has been stymied in some ways by the lack of adult-use sales”.
Virginia’s industry may be stymied but my ability to procure my 4:20 needs are not! I live in Northern Virginia. Even if I could visit an overpriced medical market why would I? Washington DC is less than an hour drive from me. In the district there is a legal provision called Initiative 71. This allows for the transportation of, and gifting of up to 2 ounces of cannabis.
Currently, there has been much debate on the legality of storefronts that sell cannabis in Washington DC. Fortunately, I do not deal with them. The city raids these shops and gets pressure from medical cannabis dispensaries to shut them down. Fortunately, I have been a member of Select Co-op for years. Select Co-op is a delivery dispensary to which I am a subscribed member. I schedule my gift to be delivered inside the city limits and the driver is always on time. I receive my gift quickly and privately and am back to Virginia to enjoy it!