STAUNTON – After passing the Senate 40-0, Virginia Board of Pharmacy chose the five companies to be the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries.
Out of 51 applicants, the five companies chosen include three established out-of-state businesses and two new Virginia-based entrepreneurs.
“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 companies will need background checks before receiving their licenses at the end of the year. Each company will serve the five health service areas (HSAs) designated in the state.
The dispensary will sell CBD and THC-A oils to patients who are registered with medical doctors authorized to recommend it. Called pharmaceutical processors, the state requires that PharmaCann grows, processes and dispenses all in the same location. 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.
In a release issued by Virginia NORML, the five companies granted conditional licenses are:
HSA I – PharmaCann Virginia is 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.
“PharmaCann is eager to bring medical cannabis to the patients of Virginia, like we do successfully in other states,” said Jeremy Unruh, director of public and regulatory affairs at PharmaCann. “We focus on highly-regulated, consumer protection-driven processes in order to ensure that we are promoting public health as the Virginia Board of Pharmacy expects.”
The Illinois-based company will be opening a facility at Green Hills Industrial Park off Technology Drive and Commerce Avenue in Staunton.
“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.”
“We feel great about the opportunity to bring some 30 or so highly-skilled, well-paying jobs to the Staunton area, not to mention the construction-related activity that our development will bring in the short term,” said Unruh. “We look forward to spending time with the local elected officials, law enforcement and citizens to educate them on what we propose to build in the Staunton community.”
Pharmaceutical processor is the language Virginia uses to describe vertically-integrated medical cannabis facilities, meaning cultivation through dispensation happens under one license at one location. Upon successful completion of the background check and receipt of the license, facilities will have one year to become operational and begin dispensing medical cannabis oils to registered Virginia patients.
Patients may obtain medicine from any facility in Virginia. To learn how patients, caregivers and physicians can register for Virginia’s program and for answers to more frequently asked questions, please visit Virginia Medical Cannabis FAQs.
“These license awards are just a start,” says Unruh. “Now the burden is on PharmaCann and the other successful applicants to deliver on our promise to the patients of Virginia.”