As the CBD industry booms, states are enacting sweeping legislation across America in an attempt to accommodate growing consumer interest and demand. One of these states, Virginia, has introduced and passed several notable bills over the last few months that increase the accessibility of CBD oils in schools and elsewhere.
Virginia Instates Support for Student Medical CBD Use
As CBD’s popularity soars, many Virginians are using the cannabinoid to address various health problems. In Virginia, medical dispensaries can issue CBD products to patients with valid medical concerns with the approval of a medical doctor. Among the patients sanctioned to use CBD are students in public schools, who — prior to this bill — would have faced dire consequences for consuming CBD products.
The bill, SB 1632, protects students who use medically-sanctioned CBD oil or THC-A oil in schools from being suspended or expelled. By requiring school boards to recognize and support student use of THC-A and CBD oils in schools, these students will be able to use their products as prescribed in a safe and state-approved manner.
The bill also protects school nurses and health workers from facing legal action if they are actively dispensing, storing, or possessing CBD and THC-A oils for medical applications.
However, as stipulated in the bill, both parents and practitioners will have to provide written consent and documentation to legitimize any student use of CBD or THC-A oil. Similarly, the pharmaceutical processor that issues any oil is also accountable for presenting documents that vouch for student use.
Virginia Increases Access to Medical CBD with Two Other Bills
Although SB 1632 is the latest piece of CBD legislation to regulate CBD oil use in schools, the state of Virginia passed two other bills in early 2019 that also promote access to CBD.
One of these bills, SB 1557, was created to aid patients who use CBD and THC-A oils for therapeutic purposes. Most notably, the bill increases the allowed dosage of THC in CBD or THC-A oil products from 5mg to 10mg. The bill also allows licensed physicians and practitioners to provide patients with written prescriptions for CBD and THC-A oils — a privilege that has paved the way for state-sanctioned CBD oil use in schools.
Another Virginian state bill, SB 1719, improves access to CBD and THC-A oils for patients who may have limited mobility. The bill allows patients to have friends, family members, or caretakers pick up prescribed CBD or THC-A oil products on their behalf without encountering legal difficulties.
When a patient appoints someone they know as a “registered pick-up agent,” the bill grants the registered agent legal immunity to cannabis-related possession charges. However, the bill specifies that “pick-up agents” can only represent a limited amount of patients at a time.
Tensions Grow Between Medical Cannabis Dispensaries and Industrial Hemp Businesses
Although medical and recreational cannabis is legal in several states, Virginia is not one of them. For decades, Virginia has maintained a strict stance on anything cannabis-related, including CBD. It wasn’t until 2015 that Virginia legalized CBD and THC-A oils for medical use — but even then, only patients with intractable epilepsy were eligible for prescriptions.
Virginia’s latest legislation, which permits CBD oil use in schools and improves patient accessibility, has helped the state accommodate the needs of its citizens. However, these new bills have also fueled a growing feud between two prominent cannabis industries.
In 2018, Virginia’s Board of Pharmacy opened dispensary applications for businesses interested in selling medical CBD and THC-A oil products. Each of the 51 companies that applied to open a dispensary in Virginia was subjected to a long and rigorous vetting process, complete with background checks and hefty filing fees. However, when the dust settled, only five companies were cleared to open their doors and sell medically-authorized CBD oil to students and adults.
In contrast to Virginia’s medical cannabis industry, the operation of the state’s industrial hemp industry is largely unfettered by regulation. Due to the passage of 2018’s US Farm Bill, hemp plants and products made from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC content are legal to produce and possess.
As a result, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has approved hundreds of hemp grower registrations, with hundreds more subject to imminent approval. Dozens of storefronts across Virginia are selling CBD oils, edibles, and CBD-infused drinks with little regulatory intervention, including gas stations and hemp-specialty stores. With the enactment of HB 1839, even hemp-derived CBD oil is legal to possess in schools.
Unfortunately, this perceived imbalance of regulation between medical cannabis dispensaries and industrial hemp businesses has created palpable tension. Some in the medical cannabis communities are portraying industrial hemp-derived products as inferior in an attempt to direct consumers towards pharmaceutical-grade CBD products instead.
Future legislation may address the growing rift that exists between Virginia’s medical cannabis and industrial hemp sectors. But, as of now, Virginia’s CBD industry is split into two distinctive halves, each catering to different markets — for better, or for worse.
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