The state of Virginia is slated to widen its commercial medical marijuana program with the launching of four medical cannabis dispensaries this August 2020. The opening of these four dispensaries signals Virginia’s eventual rise towards getting on par with other states in the country who have already legalized the drug.
According to Marijuana Business Daily, the four medical marijuana dispensaries set to open within August include Beyond/Hello in Manassas, Columbia Care in Portsmouth, Dharma in Bristol, and Green Leaf in Richmond.
Dogwood states that Dharma is planning to open mid-August, the first one to launch the $50-million program of the state. Meanwhile, Green Leaf is hoping to launch the dispensary come October this year.
Both Beyond/Hello and Columbia Care have yet to announce details of their opening dates, notes Dogwood.
Virginia’s first venture into commercial medical marijuana will be limited. Aside from allowing only 4 dispensaries for this initial entry, the stores will only carry cannabis oils, edibles, and vape cartridges. Edibles will include lozenges and lollipops. For vape cartridges, dispensaries will only allow those that are single doses with a cap of 10 milligrams of THC.
Marijuana Business Daily noted that there are market restrictions and projections that the VA market will only reach $50 million in sales by 2024. According to the new Marijuana Business factbook, the state will be able to sell a total of $9 to $11 million in the first year in 2021, with a possibility to grow to $45 to $55 million in 2024.
However, supporters are optimistic about this new development, especially as the state is expected to allow selling flowers in the next two years at most. For businesses, this initial entry offers a window of opportunity as only 6 were granted licenses to operate, one of which was forcibly surrendered. This leaves the state with only 5 players in the market, granting them a virtual monopoly in their respective areas.
Moreover, recent legislation allows licensees to open five satellite dispensaries or pharmacies in their service area. This means that each licensee can have a total of 6 locations, reinforcing the virtual monopoly in their area.
In light of the recent decriminalization of minor possession in the state, there were moves made by lawmakers to evaluate the possibility of full legalization, which would be favorable to these license holders. Additionally, flowers could soon enter the market as early as next year. Should this happen, the Marijuana Business Factbook predictions could be proven wrong, especially as there is potential for high sales growth with flowers, as what happened in Florida upon allowing flower sales.
In an interview with Jushi Holdings founder and co-president Erich Mauff, he said that Virginia’s program is “nothing but a home run” and that “there’s a good chance of flower and adult use in the next year or two.”
Meanwhile, Virginia Cannabis Industry Association executive director Rebecca Gwilt said regarding the limitation of licenses to five companies that the move “doesn’t encourage the type of competition that would be helpful to consumers.”