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Medical Weed Cards No Longer Required in Virginia Starting July 1

Virginia medical marijuana patients will be able to purchase their prescriptions without the need for a card in a week.

That is thanks to a bill that was signed into law in April that lifted the requirement “for patients to register with the state’s Board of Pharmacy for a license,” according to local news outlet WRIC.

But, per the text of the legislation, the new law still maintains “the requirement that patients obtain written certification from a health care provider for medical cannabis,” while also directing the Board of Pharmacy to “promulgate numerous regulations related to pharmaceutical processors.”

New law that took effect in July is designed to speed up the process of obtaining medical marijuana in Virginia.

It will take effect on next week and patients who have received a signed certificate from their health provider can now purchase cannabis products in stores.

Along with “letting them avoid waiting for a license from the board, a process that can take months, the law will also allow patients to not have to pay a $50 application fee,” WRIC reported.

Virginia governor Mark R. Warner made the law on this measure more than two years ago. Glenn Youngkin (Republican serving in his first term) signed the measure into law.

In addition to removing the registration requirement, the law also “amends the definition of ‘cannabis oil’ by removing the requirement that only oil from industrial hemp be used in the formulation of cannabis oil.”

The bill was passed in April by cannabis advocates who claim it will help thousands of Virginia patients. According to WRIC, data from “Virginia’s Board of Pharmacy shows nearly 47,000 total registered patients and thousands of pending applications, a backlog that has forced the board to hire new workers.”

“These legislative improvements will bring great relief to the thousands of Virginians waiting to access the medical cannabis program,” said JM Pedini, NORML’s Development Director and the Executive Director of Virginia NORML. “We hear from dozens of Virginians each week who are struggling with the registration process and frustrated by the 60-day wait to receive their approval from the Board of Pharmacy.”

Virginia’s medical cannabis law began in 2017, although it initially only permitted “patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to use some types of cannabis oil with a doctor’s certification,” according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

Since then, the program has been expanded to cover other marijuana products like edibles and buds.

Virginia was the first southern state to legalize recreational marijuana use last year.

But that law took effect under a Democratic governor and a Democratic-controlled legislature, and it also launched without a regulated market for cannabis sales in place.

As WRIC put it, that meant that “the commonwealth’s medical cannabis program became the only legal market for people.”

Youngkin, who took office this year, stated that he would not overturn the law allowing personal possession. But, it is still uncertain what the future holds for retail sales.

“When it comes to commercialization, I think there is a lot of work to be done. I’m not against it, but there’s a lot of work to be done,” Youngkin said in an interview not long before he took office. “There are some nonstarters, including the forced unionization that’s in the current bill. Law enforcement has raised concerns about how this gap can be closed. Finally, there’s a real need to make sure that we aren’t promoting an anti-competitive industry. I do understand that there are preferences to make sure that all participants in the industry are qualified to do the industry well.”