RD111 - Report on Operation of Pharmaceutical Processors and Medical Cannabis Dispensing Facilities – December 2022

Executive Summary:

The Code of Virginia authorizes the Board to issue up to five pharmaceutical processor permits authorizing the facilities to cultivate cannabis, produce and dispense cannabis products. As of the date of this report, there are four current active permits. All pharmaceutical processors are currently cultivating cannabis and submitting medical cannabis products to the Board for approval. The pharmaceutical processors continue to have cannabis oil products such as nasal spray, chewables, suppositories, topical gel, oral oils and vaped oil, wax concentrate, and bubble hash concentrate inhalations available for dispensing along with whole flower, pre-rolled joints and ground flower products for dispensing. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the psychoactive component of cannabis. Tetrahydrocannabinol-A (THC-A) can be converted into THC through decarboxylation. Of the products currently dispensed, the vaped inhalation products from oils, wax concentrates, and bubble hash concentrates have the highest THC/THC-A combined concentrations, ranging from 0.25%-90.37%. Tablet/capsules are available with a THC/THC-A range of 1.87%-74.20%. Botanical cannabis products have the next highest THC/THC-A combined concentration, ranging from 7.57% to 36.74%.

Conditional approval issued to PharmaCann for a fifth pharmaceutical processor permit located in Health Service Area I was rescinded in June 2020. Deadline for a subsequent Request for Application (RFA) to competitively award a permit in this health service area was December 4, 2020. The Board received 26 applications during the RFA period. PharmaCann appealed the Board’s decision and on January 14, 2021, the Henrico County Circuit Court ordered the Board to cease reviewing applications until further order by the Court. In March 2022, the Henrico County Circuit Court ruled in the favor of the Board of Pharmacy. PharmaCann subsequently filed an appeal with the Virginia Court of Appeals. As a result, the Board must wait for the Court’s resolution of PharmaCann’s appeal, which remains ongoing at this time.

The Board may also award up to five cannabis dispensing facility permits per health service area. A cannabis dispensing facility must be partly owned by the pharmaceutical processor located in the health service area. Currently, there are nine permitted cannabis dispensing facilities in the Commonwealth. Patients may obtain medical cannabis products from these nine facilities, in addition to the four pharmaceutical processors.

As of July 1, 2022, medical cannabis patients and parents/legal guardians are no longer required to register with the Board of Pharmacy and may obtain product by presenting a current written certification issued by a registered practitioner recommending use of medical cannabis and an unexpired Government-issued identification card. However, an enactment clause of HB 933 passed during the 2022 General Assembly Session authorizes a patient to voluntarily request a registration card from the Board of Pharmacy. Since July 1, 2022, the Board has seen a reduction of 88% in patient registration applications. As of November 13, 2022, there are 40,335 registered patients, 173 registered parents/legal guardians, 164 registered agents, and 1,119 registered practitioners. Registrations for 2,101 medical cannabis products have also been issued to date.

The Board continues to actively pursue implementation of a new licensing software system to improve efficiencies in both the patient and medical cannabis product registration process. It is anticipated that the system will be active in the first quarter of 2023.