If you’re familiar with Virginia’s legal marijuana scenario, you’re aware that things are a little strange. Virginians live in a large, hazy gray zone.
Possession of recreational marijuana (as long as it’s less than an ounce and you’re over the age of 21) is allowed. However, selling recreational marijuana is still illegal in Virginia, and it doesn’t appear that this will change until 2024.
You’re allowed to have up to four plants in your house, but where do you obtain the seeds? I’m still getting a barrage of emails asking the same question. (The answer is to look for “marijuana seeds for sale” on the internet, where you’ll find a bewildering assortment of options.)
Finally, there’s medical marijuana, which is currently accessible for purchase at the best online weed dispensary in Virginia.
One of them is set to debut this month at 1634 W. Main St. in Salem. RISE Salem is the name of the game. And that’s arguably the most exciting piece of news for that stretch of road since Chick-fil-A arrived there a few years ago after Bojangles sued (and lost) in court to stop them.
The problem is that purchasing things at Salem’s planned medical marijuana shop is more difficult than buying a chicken sandwich. To begin, a medicinal marijuana license from the Commonwealth of Virginia is required. How can you get your hands on one of those? Continue reading and I’ll lead you through the procedure.
A “Certification for the Use of Cannabis” from a certified Virginia health expert is the first item you’ll need. It’s not as simple as requesting one. You must have a medical condition for which marijuana is prescribed, such as anxiety, arthritis, cancer, difficult-to-cure nausea, or anything similar.
Even then, many health care providers are hesitant. I questioned my nurse practitioner (Carilion) about becoming certified during my last checkup in June. She just laughed and said she’d heard that request from a few patients – and wished them luck in their search.
So I dialed the number for the ophthalmologist who treats me for glaucoma, which is one of the medical illnesses for which marijuana is prescribed. He, too, smiled and said he’d received similar requests from his patients. He wished me luck as well. What a waste of time!
A weed-obsessed acquaintance informed me about a nurse practitioner in Richmond who will write a medicinal cannabis prescription over the phone. However, she costs $300, which I thought was a bit excessive for a cheapskate like me.
Then I got a call from another pot-smoking pal in Blacksburg. He’d just received a medical cannabis certification from a Michigan phone doctor, and he was ecstatic. The cost was $150, but my friend had a $15 off coupon code, so the total cost was $135.
Shazam! I’m not sure how I got that contract.
My Blacksburg acquaintance said that it was simple. He suggested I start by calling one of the state-licensed dispensaries, Dharma Pharmaceuticals in Abingdon. That is the name of the corporation that will be opening a store in Salem. (276) 644-6400 is their phone number.
I requested that the person who replied refer me to a health practitioner who could issue me a medicinal marijuana certificate. I was put on hold by her. The background music was tastefully reggae, which was a great touch.
On the other end of the telephone was a man.
“How can I assist?” he inquired.
“You guys helped a friend of mine get his medical marijuana license,” I explained. “He said you referred him to a tele-doc and that you have a $15 off consultation code.”
“Just go to Leafwell.co,” the man advised. “Dharma15 is the discount code.” That’s where I went after that. (If you don’t have access to audio and video on your computer, you’ll need to do this on your phone.) Otherwise, it will not work.)
Leafwell.co appears to be some sort of online one-stop shop for medicinal marijuana permits. It can assist you in obtaining medical marijuana cards in 39 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. The website also appears to be well-versed in all of the processes.
So I followed the prompts to schedule an appointment, which meant giving some personal information about my medical history and current meds. Then I provided the information for my credit card. I was on the phone with a Northern Virginia-based physician in less than three minutes.
It seemed like saying the word “glaucoma” was all I needed to earn my certification. The doctor indicated it was a well-known condition for which cannabis could be beneficial (but my Roanoke ophthalmologist disagrees).
The tele-doc inquired about any other meds I’m currently taking. The entire exchange lasted roughly two minutes. He then stated that my certification would be sent to me via email shortly. He wasn’t joking when he said that. In less than 60 seconds, it appeared. But it isn’t the end of the story.
Leafwell.co then led me to the Virginia Department of Health Professions’ website. You must register with your name, birth date, address, Social Security number, email address, and phone number on that website. (Detailed instructions for browsing the state website can be found at Leafwell.co.)
Then there’s another $50 to pay — this time to the state of Virginia — for the privilege of applying.
Then you must transmit a copy of your driver’s license (which confirms your age and residency) to the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, along with your Certification for the Use of Cannabis Products. There may be a way to do it by email, but the board’s website is confusing about that.
Board of Pharmacy; Perimeter Center; 9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 300; Henrico, VA 23233-1463 is the organization’s address.
As you read this, my paperwork is in the mail.
I also dialed the Department of Health Professions’ phone number. It appears that getting a human to answer the phone there these days is difficult.
However, I heard a recorded message saying that they’re processing health professions licenses as quickly as they can, but that patience is appreciated because there’s been an influx of persons requesting medical marijuana licenses recently.