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Doctor's Note: Medical Cannabis & Nursing Home Access

Updated: Jan 18

In 2018, we passed legislation allowing Virginia patients access to CBD and THC-A, which are the medicinal derivatives of marijuana. With doctor approval, Virginians are now able to seek these natural compounds to treat anything from pain management to Parkinson’s disease to PTSD. Medical marijuana is a low-cost and low-risk pain management alternative and may be recommended at the physician's discretion.

How the process works now is that a patient receives a written certification for medical cannabis from their doctor or registered practitioner. With that written certification, the patient may apply to obtain registration for medical cannabis from the Board of Pharmacy. Once they are registered, the patient is eligible to register with one of Virginia’s approved providers of medicinal cannabis oils. At the provider location, the recommended product is dispensed to the patient.

Last year, a nursing home in my district came to me and told me that under current laws, their staff do not have the authority to store or dispense a resident’s approved, certified and registered medical cannabis. Because of federal regulations, they are not able to dispense even if patients have an affirmative defense & certification from their doctor.

That is why this year I am sponsoring legislation (SB185) to allow nursing home and assisted living facility staff members to dispense medical cannabis to their residents who have a valid certification and registration. This can only be done by nursing home or assisted living staff who are already authorized to distribute medications to residents.

Ideally, this legislation will eliminate barriers on our nursing homes and assisted living communities by allowing access to safer, cheaper forms of pain management.

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