There’s a lot of confusion surrounding medical cannabis, it’s legality, and how it’s used. Here, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

Is medical cannabis legal in Virginia?

Yes, Virginia residents can now receive medical cannabis thanks to legislation including HB 1251 and SB 1557. Qualifying patients can obtain their Virginia Medical Marijuana Card by getting written certification from a doctor/PA/NP and then registering with the Board of Pharmacy.

Why do I need a Virginia Medical Marijuana Card?

A Virginia Medical Marijuana Card verifies that your name has been added to the Virginia Medical Marijuana Registry by a licensed Virginia physician.

How do I obtain a Virginia Medical Card?

You can download this guide by Sage Decoded which provides the steps to obtain your Virginia Medical Marijuana Card. 

Is recreational cannabis legal in Virginia?

Yes, as of July 1, 2021, possession of cannabis up to 1 ounce in public by adults 21+ is now legal. Adult sharing of up to 1 ounce in private and home growing up to 4 plants per household by adults 21+ at their primary residence is also now legal. Additional information regarding Adult Recreational Legalization in Virginia can be found at Virginia NORML.

Why do I need a medical cannabis card if recreational use is now legal in Virginia?

Effective July 1, 2021, limited employment protections for registered medical cannabis patients were put into place. While these limited employment protections do not extend to federal & federal adjacent employees due to Cannabis being federally illegal, it is still a step in the right direction.  Individual private employers can enact their own policies; however, the new legislation does provide limited employment protections that recreational-only cannabis use does not provide. As always, consumption during working hours is not recommended and may be against your employer’s policies. Limited employment protection includes:

  • 40.1-27.4. Discipline for employee’s medicinal use of cannabis oil prohibited.
  • As used in this section, “cannabis oil” means the same as that term is defined in § 54.1-3408.3.
  • No employer shall discharge, discipline, or discriminate against an employee for such employee’s lawful use of cannabis oil pursuant to a valid written certification issued by a practitioner for the treatment or to eliminate the symptoms of the employee’s diagnosed condition or disease pursuant to § 54.1-3408.3.
  • Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection B, nothing in this section shall (i) restrict an employer’s ability to take any adverse employment action for any work impairment caused by the use of cannabis oil or to prohibit possession during work hours, (ii) require an employer to commit any act that would cause the employer to be in violation of federal law or that would result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding, or (iii) require any defense industrial base sector employer or prospective employer, as defined by the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, to hire or retain any applicant or employee who tests positive for tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in excess of 50 ng/ml for a urine test or 10 pg/mg for a hair test.

Additionally, products purchased at a medical dispensary have been quality & safety tested for consistent medical treatment. Never purchase products that do not have a Certificate of Analysis (COA) available for your review.

What can I do with my card?

Your registered card allows you to buy medical cannabis from dispensaries, possess medical cannabis products, and consume medical cannabis products in the state of Virginia.

What are the eligible conditions for medical cannabis in Virginia?

According to the Virginia Bureau of Health, qualifying conditions include any chronic or debilitating condition that, according to a licensed physician, might be helped by the use of medical cannabis. Some of these conditions include:

  • Alzheimer’s
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Cachexia and wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Chronic Pain
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Tourette’s Syndrome

What is a cannabis nurse?

A cannabis nurse is a registered nurse who has received specialized training in cannabis therapeutics. Cannabis nurses have a working knowledge of the endocannabinoid system and understand the nuances of utilizing cannabis for medical treatment.

 How do you become a cannabis nurse?

According to the American Cannabis Nursing Association (ACNA), any licensed or registered nurse can become a cannabis nurse. The ACNA developed two courses to educate nurses on the endocannabinoid system, the basics of cannabis, and its use in modern medicine. Graduates of the ACNA’s cannabis courses are considered competent in cannabis nursing.

Is there a certification for cannabis nurses?

Not currently. However, the ACNA is actively working with the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) to make cannabis nursing a recognized specialty and create a formal credentialing process and certification.

Is it legal to work with a cannabis nurse?

Yes. Cannabis nurses do not sell medical marijuana products, but provide education to patients and other healthcare professionals on its uses and benefits. This service is 100% legal.

How do I find a licensed practitioner to prescribe medical cannabis?

Providers must be registered, so not all practitioners can recommend medical cannabis. If your medical provider isn’t registered, you can ask them if they will consider becoming registered to recommend the treatment or you can schedule an appointment with a licensed provider. Feel free to contact us for help finding a licensed provider. Click here to email Sage Decoded.

Where can I legally purchase medical cannabis products in Virginia?

At present, only licensed pharmaceutical processors/dispensaries/companies in the state sell medical cannabis products. The first dispensary in Virginia opened in October 2020.

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Nicole S. Brown, RN, BSN is a registered nurse with more than 14 years of experience in various healthcare settings. She is the founder of Sage Decoded and is committed to educating and advocating for patients and providers as they learn to safely treat a host of conditions with medical cannabis.

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