Virginia Medical Marijuana Law Takes Effect

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According to a release issued by Virginia NORML, on Friday, March 9, Governor Ralph Northam signed HB1251, expanding the affirmative defense for possession of medical cannabis oils to any diagnosed condition.

Here’s what this means and how it works.

The change of law does not legalize possession, it provides an affirmative defense. A signed affirmative defense certificate may be submitted as a patient’s or caregiver’s defense in a Virginia court of law 10 days prior to trial if charged for possession.

1. Print the Affirmative Defense Certificate.

2. Take it to your physician and ask your doctor to sign it.

3. Keep the signed certificate with your oil at all times.

4. Present your certificate if questioned by law enforcement.

5. If not accepted and charged with possession, call an attorney or ask for court-appointed counsel.

6. Present your signed certificate 10 days prior to trial as directed.

Patients will still have to take risks to obtain oils until Virginia’s program is operational. The estimated earliest date medicine will be available at a licensed Virginia facility is late 2019. Hence, the affirmative defense process.

The affirmative defense applies to oil products only. The oil must contain at least 15% CBD or at least 15% THCA-A and may contain no more than 5% THC. The affirmative defense does not apply to flower, other products or products outside the allowed cannabinoid ratios.

“The passage of HB 1251 is an important next step to improving the lives of so many Virginians and sets an important precedent for laws like this across the country,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, the legislation’s chief co-patron.

Virginia NORML recommendations:

1. Don’t consume your medicine in public.

2. Don’t take it out of your home unless absolutely necessary.

3. Keep your signed certificate with the oil at all times.

4. If you must travel with your medicine, place it in a locked container in your trunk.

5. Don’t drive impaired.

6. Don’t post on social media about your medicine.

“Today’s passage of the HB 1251 is a monumental win for patients across Virginia,” said Staunton’s Nikki Narduzzi, patient coalition director of Cannabis Commonwealth. “We are excited to help patients achieve their goals of pain management, reducing prescription opioid use and a better quality life via cannabis therapies right here in their home state.”