How to Register for Medical Cannabis in Virginia

Thanks to the diligent work of activists and lawmakers in Virginia, medical cannabis is now legal there for an extended list of qualifying medical conditions. Cannabis-based lotions, vapes, edibles, and oils, in addition to medical marijuana flowers, are all legal in the state. 

Let’s take a deeper look into the history of marijuana legalization in Virginia and how you can register for medical cannabis under the current laws. 

History of Medical Marijuana in Virginia

Virginia approved legislation allowing physicians to recommend marijuana for certain patients in 1976. It applied to those suffering from the side effects of chemotherapy or glaucoma. In 1997, it seemed almost certain that there would be a repeal of the medical marijuana law. This did not happen, but the law seemed to be non-functioning for many years. This is because federal law prohibited medical cannabis prescriptions.

In 1998, the state’s general assembly tightened the medical marijuana laws. It also added a provision allowing its distribution and use for glaucoma and cancer. In 2015, the state’s governor signed Senate Bill 1235 and House Bill 1445. This created an affirmative defense against a charge of possession for patients with a doctor’s recommendation for CBD oil and THC-A oil for the treatment of epilepsy. 

Changes in Marijuana Use Laws in Virginia

Since medical marijuana became legal in the state, some changes to the marijuana laws have already been made. A new amendment came into effect on July 1, 2021. It legalized home cultivation and simple possession for individuals aged 20 years and above. 

Are you are an existing medical marijuana patient? If so, you probably noticed some significant changes since recreational use became legal. For example, patients can now access an MMJ (medical marijuana) card through a telemedicine appointment. You do not have to visit a doctor in person. If you think you qualify for medical marijuana, consult with a registered doctor. 

Why Marijuana Dispensaries Exist

Federal law bars pharmacies from filling cannabis prescriptions. This is why marijuana dispensaries exist, legally carrying and selling cannabis products. 

Since dispensaries deal in cash, you will probably notice a high level of security when you step inside. Upon entering, you will check in with a receptionist before proceeding to the dispensing area or room. The receptionist will ask for your medical marijuana card or recommendation from a doctor and ID. If you have an ID from another state, you may have to provide proof of residency. 

However, before you visit most medical cannabis dispensaries, you need to have the necessary MMJ documentation.

Registering for Medical Marijuana in Virginia

It is quite easy to register for medical cannabis in Virginia. All you need to do is find a licensed medical marijuana doctor. The doctor will evaluate you either in-person or online and register you with the state if they believe you will benefit from medical cannabis treatment. 

With a recommendation from a registered doctor, you can become a registered patient. After this, all you will need to do is find a medical cannabis dispensary or store.

Steps to Take

Just because you have a medical condition does not mean that you qualify for a medical marijuana card. As stated above, you need a diagnosis from a licensed doctor. That said, there is some ambiguity regarding patients who qualify for a Virginia medical cannabis card. Assuming that your doctor recommended you for medical marijuana treatment, you need to know how to register with the state’s Board of Pharmacy.

Essentially, registering for medical cannabis in Virginia is a three-step process. This involves:

  • Scheduling an appointment with a certified medical cannabis doctor,
  • Undergoing an evaluation to determine whether the treatment is appropriate for you, and
  • Registering with the state and submitting your application.

Find a Registered Doctor

Doctors must go through a registration process before recommending patients for medical marijuana treatment. You need to understand that not all doctors in Virginia have the license required to make recommendations. Fortunately, a quick Google search can help you find out whether your doctor can do so. 

Once you find a registered doctor, schedule an appointment. The appointment to get a recommendation usually lasts approximately 15 minutes, and all you will need to bring is evidence of your medical condition. This includes medical records, medication bottles, diagnoses, and prescriptions. Remember that most health insurers do not cover the costs associated with obtaining a medical cannabis card. Applying for certification may cost you about $200. There is a renewal cost of $159. 

Once you receive a recommendation from your doctor, you can register yourself as a medical marijuana patient. After you submit your application, it will take between seven and ten days to process it. If your application is successful, you will receive your registration card through the mail. You need to keep your card in your wallet since it is one of the documents you will need to produce at any marijuana store or dispensary in Virginia. 

What a Medical Marijuana Card Gets You

With a Virginia medical marijuana card, you can get the following benefits:

  • Access to oil-based cannabis products,
  • Access to licensed marijuana dispensaries throughout the state,
  • As of July 2021, access to cannabis flowers, and
  • Access to low-cost cannabis products.

Caregiver Laws

Are you a caregiver of a minor who could benefit from medical marijuana? If so, the law permits you to enter a marijuana dispensary, make a purchase, and transport it to your home within Virginia. Essentially, under Virginia law, you will be a registered agent. As a caregiver, you must be either a legal guardian or parent of the minor. 

Bottom Line

If you have or believe you have a medical condition that can benefit from medical cannabis, you can likely qualify for a medical marijuana card in Virginia. You simply need to find a registered and compassionate practitioner to review your symptoms. If medical cannabis is appropriate, the doctor will recommend it as part of your treatment plan. 

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