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Virginia Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk

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House Bill 1251, dubbed the Let Doctors Decide medical marijuana bill, is headed to Governor Northam’s desk. Nikki Narduzzi, director of Cannabis Commonwealth, approached Delegate Bill Cline regarding the proposal. Two short months ago Cline agreed to patron the bill.

Last year, the state approved a program allowing the in-state production of medical marijuana oil, according to News Leader. The regulations permit one provider per health service area. The provider is allowed to grow, extract, deliver and dispense approved medical marijuana oils. The providers handle every step of the process from seed to sale.

Narduzzi said, “Today’s passage of the HB 1251 is a monumental win for patients across Virginia. With Virginia fighting a growing opioid crisis, this is smart legislation to reduce dependence on addictive narcotics. By expanding the ability to recommend medical cannabis oil, we are giving doctors the freedom to make a decision based on the most up to date research and data, just as they do for any other medication they prescribe. I am pleased to see this bill pass the general assembly, and I look forward to the governor signing it into law.”

Once the system is up and running, doctors interested in recommending the oil to patients have to obtain necessary Continuing Medical Education credits pertaining to medical marijuana to be able to provide recommendations to patients.

Patients and registered doctors are required to pay an annual registration fee of $50.

The law doesn’t legalize compounds of medical marijuana but does provide protection against prosecution for those permitted to possess it – caregivers included.

In Virginia, the approved oil has to contain at least 15-percent CBD or a minimum of THCA but may not contain more than 5-percent THC.

Jenn Michelle Pedini of Virginia NORML said, “Virginia can now benefit from the same reduction in opioid fatalities observed by states that have implemented medical cannabis laws. 25% fewer opioid overdose deaths occur after states adopt medical marijuana laws, and after just a few short years the percentage escalates to 30-35%. Three Virginians die every day from opiate overdoses so this legislation will help immensely in mitigating the opiate crisis in the Commonwealth.”

Regarding HB 1251, Delegate Kaye Kory said, “HB 1251 is the culmination of several years of work with my constituents and a year long study by the Joint Commission on Health Care, on which I serve. I am proud to be a chief co-patron along with Delegate Ben Cline. This bill will allow more Virginians to avail themselves of the healing properties of medical cannabis oils which can ease the symptoms of painful and debilitating diseases and conditions.”

Governor Northam has recommended an emergency clause that would allow the legislation to take effect the minute he signs the bill into law.

Regarding the emergency clause, Delegate Steve Heretick said, “As a former President of the Virginia Board of Medicine, I can tell you it is long past time for us to allow physicians, not legislators, to make medical decisions in treating their patients. This is a big step in the right direction. I am particularly thankful for the emergency clause recommended by the governor, which will allow this law to go into effect as soon as he signs the bill.”

Delegate Mark Levine said, “Virginia will set historic public policy today, by becoming the first state legislature to expand a hyper-restrictive medical cannabis program from a single qualifying condition to any diagnosed condition. I have championed expansion of Virginia’s medical cannabis laws since I took office.”

Governor Northam is not expected to take much time to sign the bill into law.