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Recreational marijuana still isn’t legal in Virginia and medical patients face access challenges

While recreational marijuana is technically legal in Virginia, the path to purchasing it in stores is still a long way off.

In February, Republicans in the House of Delegates killed legislation that would have allowed limited retail sales later this year. The state’s recreational market is scheduled to begin in 2024, but with a long regulatory road ahead, there’s a strong likelihood that products won’t become available until months or even years later, according to JM Pedini, development director of the National Organization for the Reform Marijuana Laws, or NORML.

With recreational sales stalled for the foreseeable future, Virginia’s medical cannabis program remains the only way for most residents to legally acquire marijuana short of growing it themselves. Currently, though, there are only 46,935 registered patients in Virginia, according to data from the Board of Pharmacy — a small number compared to the state’s overall population of more than 8.6 million.

Pedini, who also serves as executive director of Virginia’s NORML chapter, said that’s largely due to barriers that still exist within the program, despite significant growth over the last three years. Unlike the early stages of the state’s gradual foray into medicinal marijuana, patients now have access to a broad array of products, from edibles to flower, rather than the low-THC oil originally offered through the program. And Virginia’s licensed processors are now able to open up to five additional retail dispensaries, gradually increasing availability. [Read more at Virginia Mercury]

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