The state-legal cannabis industry has been growing steadily over the years, with the sector worth an estimated $13.6 billion as of 2019. At the moment, 33 states have legalized medical cannabis and Virginia is set to join the club. The state’s medical marijuana law had been a constant source of confusion and frustration for reform advocates until Gov. Ralph Northam recommended an amendment to revise the language of the legislation to expand patient access to the plant and grant them legal protections.
The state’s medical cannabis program is set to launch soon with four medical marijuana dispensaries opening their doors this year, according to Virginia NORML. Dharma will open in Bristol in mid-August, Green Leaf hopes to open in Green Leaf while Columbia Care and Beyond/Hello have not yet provided opening dates. Under recent legislation, the five licensed processors will be allowed to open five more dispensaries called pharmacies in designated “Healthy Service” regions throughout the state. One license is currently vacant after MedMed Enterprises was recently forced to give up its license.
At the moment, medical cannabis products sold in the state will be limited to cannabis oils, edibles such as lozenges and lollipops and vape cartridges with single doses capped at 10 milligrams of THC. However, medical cannabis proponents are hoping for the addition of flower sales in a year or two under a Democratic-controlled legislature and Democratic governor. This would without a doubt increase opportunities in the industry which is estimated to reach a modest $50 million in sales by 2024.
According to projections from the new Marijuana Business Factbook, medical cannabis sales in Virginia will reach only $9 million in the first full year in 2021 and grow to $45 million-$55 million by 2024. The projections would increase tremendously if Virginia lawmakers allow the sale of flower. “There’s a good chance of flower and adult use in the next year or two,” says Erich Mauff, founder and co-president of Florida-based multistate operator Joshi Holdings. His firm holds one of the five vertically integrated licenses issued by the state.
New York based MGO Columbia Care, another license holder, said that it is “preparing for a dynamic market with high growth potential.”
A group of Round One applicants who didn’t secure one of the five licenses as well as firms interested in getting in the business have formed the Virginia Cannabis Industry Association. They are fighting to open the market to additional business opportunities such as stand-alone cultivation and retail licenses. “We think limiting the availability of the market to five companies doesn’t encourage the type of competition that would be helpful to consumers,” says Rebecca Gwilt, executive director of the industry association.
Industry watchers say the entire cannabis industry, including entities like Pure Extracts Corp., is hoping that the program finally takes off and patients get a chance to try cannabis products to alleviate their health challenges.
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