SB 701 passes the Virginia General Assembly, Sets Stage for Medical Marijuana
RICHMOND, Va.: Today the Virginia Senate passed SB 701, a bill that creates a pathway for medical marijuana in the form of non-psychoactive Cannabidiol Oils to be manufactured and distributed in Virginia, for use by those suffering from intractable epilepsy. After intense negotiations and several amendments in both chambers of the legislature, SB 701 won final approval today in the Senate on a unanimous vote, after passing the House of Delegates unanimously last week. The bill now heads to Governor McAuliffe for his approval.
“Providing this medication to Virginians is absolutely the right thing to do,” said Senator Dave Marsden, the sponsor of the legislation. “THC-A and CBD oils have shown the ability to help alleviate the number and severity of seizures from intractable epilepsy and help so many families live a quality life. This is a huge step for Virginia, a first in the nation concept that will provide the medications in the safest most secure fashion and shows once again that Virginia leads the way.”
“I am pleased to have joined Senator Marsden once again in supporting legislation on this important issue. We must advocate for our most vulnerable Virginians. Passage of SB 701 is one of the many ways this can be done,” said Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn, co-sponsor of the legislation.
“We are proud of the members of the Virginia General Assembly for allowing this first step towards helping epilepsy patients and their families obtain a safe and reliable treatment in the Commonwealth without breaking laws. We hope the federal government will take notice of our legislator’s actions, and of those in 39 other states, and move quickly to pass legislation rescheduling cannabis to improve access and research,” said Beth Collins, a parent of a daughter who suffers from intractable epilepsy and the Communications and Outreach Director for Americans for Safe Access.
Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation creating an affirmative defense for a patient with a written certification from a licensed physician to possess the oils but did not provide a way for the patient to legally obtain them. This legislation seeks to create a way to process and provide THC-A and CBD Oils for patients with intractable epilepsy by requiring the Board of Pharmacy to create regulations to safely and securely provide the medications. Once the Board of Pharmacy creates the regulations they will be brought back before the legislature next year for final approval. Processing of the medication would not begin until sometime in 2017.
THC-A and CBD oils are non-hallucinogenic and have proven to be effective in reducing the number of seizures for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy, an epileptic or neurological disorder that produces serious, debilitating, and many times life threatening seizures. Many people, especially children, can suffer from hundreds of seizures a day. Currently these medications are not approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration; the benefits are difficult to study because marijuana is categorized as a schedule one drug.
SB 701 would allow for five distribution centers, one in each Health Service Area as established by the Board of Health. It would require the Board of Pharmacy to adopt regulations for health, safety, and security including location restrictions, physical standards, security systems and controls, minimum equipment and resources, record keeping, labeling and packaging, quarterly inspections, processes for safely and securely cultivating Cannabis plants, a maximum number of cannabis plants, and for the secure disposal of plant remains. This would be the first in the nation of its kind; to require the growing, manufacturing, and distribution of the medication to be done in one facility.