As Virginia begins its first earnest conversations about legalizing recreational marijuana, the state’s nascent medical marijuana industry is just getting off the ground.
The first producer opened in Bristol last month. The remaining three licensees in Richmond, Portsmouth and Manassas aim to begin serving patients by the end of the year.
And when the General Assembly convenes in January, the companies are hoping that as lawmakers consider allowing recreational use, they also act to ease up on the medical side.
Their big ask: Permission to sell the plant in its most basic, smokable form — unprocessed flower.
“Virginia’s medical program is one of the most restrictive in the country,” said Adam Goers, the chairman of the Virginia Medical Cannabis Coalition, which represents the companies. “Virginians deserve true access to this important alternative medicinal therapy, and removing barriers to access should be a critical part of the conversation as the commonwealth looks toward legalization.”