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Virginia Announces Its 5 Medical Cannabis Dispensaries

 By Roger Malespin

October 17th 2108 photo/istock/Evgeny Gromov

irginia is a strange place in regards to its marijuana laws. Their possession laws are rather strict, even a small amount is a class 1 misdemeanor, yet they have some of the lightest laws regarding cultivation. Any amount of cultivation, even hundreds of plants, can be considered personal use and not liable to prosecution. In 2015, the state failed to decriminalize marijuana, but last February, governor Mcauliffe enacted a law which allowed CBD and THC-A oils for treatment of epilepsy.

This week, the governor’s law came into fruition as Virginia named the 5 companies that will be the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries. 51 companies applied for licenses, and out of the 5 chosen, 3 are from out of state and 2 are Virginia-based. They are:

HSA I PharmaCann Virginia - the largest vertically-integrated and unified medical cannabis company operating in highly regulated states, with six licenses in Illinois and five in New York.

HSA II – Dalitso is a Virginia-based company with strong ties to the community.

HSA III – Dharma Pharmaceuticals is a Virginia-based company that plans to locate in the old Bristol Mall, currently owned by Par Ventures, a stakeholder in the company.

HSA IV – Green Leaf Medical of Virginia has been awarded a stage 2 license to cultivate medical cannabis in Maryland.

HSA V – Columbia Care operates dispensaries in Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Washington, D.C., California, Delaware, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.

 All 5 companies will open the state’s first legal growing operation within a year, pending all background checks before the licenses are finalized.

"I think it's good news for Virginia," says Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML. "We haven't seen from the out-of-state companies any glaring failures in compliance from the states they are operating in. Columbia Care and PharmaCann are some of the best in the business."

The oils are required by law to contain a minimum of 5mg/mL of either CBD or THCA, and may contain a maximum of 5% THC.

"To me, there's been enough research done to show the benefits," said Staunton Mayor Carolyn Dull. "It's a win-win, and it means more jobs and opportunities for people in Staunton, as well as helping people with medical issues."

 This is the latest in a wave of medical marijuana legislation hitting the country. Governor Mcauliffe has long been a supporter of legalization and has fought a hard battle against the strong anti marijuana lobby in his state. Virginia is home to more than half a million military veterans, who are among the largest patient blocks of medical marijuana. The opioid epidemic has hit them very hard, and the governor’s actions are a delivery on his promise to them.

In the short term, this will bring some high skilled jobs to the state, as well as many

construction-related jobs. Long term benefits will be the life saving aid opioid addicts need, as well as those who suffer from rare and crippling forms of epilepsy who will no longer have to worry about a potentially fatal attack at any given moment.

It seems that progress towards legalization is being made every day in our country. It is of the utmost importance for everyone in the cannabis community to research and vote for pro legalization candidates in your area this November. If any of our readers are in Virginia and need to learn more about registration for medical marijuana, all information can be found at Virginia Medical Cannabis FAQ