Industry group forms to push for cannabis commercialization
By Keya Vakil
May 21, 2019

As public support for the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis grows in Virginia and across the country, an industry group has been created to advance the commercialization of cannabis in the Commonwealth.

According to a story in the Roanoke Times, the Cannabis Business Association of Virginia (CannaBizVa) is not fighting to decriminalize or legalize marijuana, but will instead advocate for regulations favorable to the cannabis industry, such as increasing the number of licensed medical marijuana operators and allowing CBD oil to be added to food and supplements.

The Virginia Department of Agriculture currently oversees hemp and its products, while the Board of Pharmacy licenses “pharmaceutical processors” who grow and sell THC-based products. The pharmacy board regulates the state’s medical marijuana system, which includes only five authorized processors that are expected to begin sales later this year.

CannaBizVA is hoping to increase the number of processors, since the General Assembly initially set the number at five when legal use of medical marijuana was limited to an estimated 25,000 people suffering from a form of intractable epilepsy.

In 2018, Virginia lawmakers voted to allow physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for treatment of any condition, but kept the number of processors at five.

The General Assembly would have to approve any expansion of the number of processors and CannaBizVa plans to push legislators to do just that.

The group also plans to push the Board of Agriculture to reconsider its position that the state’s Food Safety Program cannot approve hemp processors to manufacture or sell products containing CBD oil.

The push to further commercialize cannabis comes as 76% of Virginians support decriminalization of marijuana, 93% support doctor-recommended medical cannabis, and 59% support legalized adult-use.

Despite the public support, Republicans in the General Assembly defeated dozens of bills that would have decriminalized or legalized marijuana.

For more details on CannaBizVA and its efforts, check out the full story at The Roanoke Times.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

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