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Virginia Report Finds Cannabis Prices Higher Than Other States

A new report has found that medical cannabis prices in Virginia are higher than in other states, driving 90% of patients to source their medicine in other markets.

Earlier this year, the Virginia House Health, Welfare and Institutions Committee tasked the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (Authority) with conducting a study of the state’s cannabis programme.

The study focussed on patient access and whether it was feasible to add more licenses to the programme.

The study found that patients were procuring their medicine from “an unregulated, but not necessarily illicit, market.”

It states that evolving local policies and adult-use policies in bordering states are resulting in medical cannabis prices remaining high, with approximately 57% of medical patients obtaining cannabis through home cultivation.

A further 65.2% of patients received cannabis “from a friend or family suggesting that

recent home-grow and adult-use sharing legislation has negatively impacted the ability of Pharmaceutical Processors to obtain and retain demand.”

The report also found that 12% of patients are now traveling to other states such as Washington, DC and Maryland, where prices are much lower.

The problem is reflected in patient enrolment in the state’s medical programme, with only 0.5% of state’s population participating in the medical programme “despite low barriers to patient participation”.

“Of past-year consumers that are not patients, 22% reported they did not need to become medical patients because they already had access to cannabis, suggesting that interest in programme participation is low among potential patients despite the recent reduction in barriers to patient participation,” the report states.

To tackle the problem, five pathways for improving patient access have been suggested in the report, although they are not formal recommendations.

The pathways include:

  • No policy changes to the medical cannabis program and issue the remaining Pharmaceutical Processor license in HSA (Health Service Area) I.
  • Adding limited standalone medical cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary licenses that can operate within any HSA, and allow Pharmaceutical Processors to expand beyond their six-store maximum.
  • Additional Pharmaceutical Processor licenses.
  • Additional Pharmaceutical Processor licenses, and eliminating the HSA framework, as well as allowing Pharmaceutical Processors to expand beyond their six-store maximum.
  • Adding limited standalone medical cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary licenses, as well as adopting permissive vertical integration for new and existing operators, and allowing Pharmaceutical Processors to expand in specialised supply chain functions, and remove the HSA framework.

To read the full report please visit: https://www.cca.virginia.gov/sites/default/files/Agenda_Minutes/BoardMeetingAgendaReport11.28.23.pdf

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