Generally, a doctor will write a prescription on a special pad, or use an online interface directly with the pharmacy. However, the process is different for a medical patient choosing cannabis in Virginia. Here are some similarities and differences between a standard prescription and the medical cannabis certification process allowed in Virginia law.
Doctors can’t prescribe Cannabis While a Schedule 1 Substance.
Under federal law, controlled substances are classified under schedules, ranking from 1 to 5. Schedules 2-5 have varying level of control, and decreasing level of abuse and addiction dangers with the higher number. However, schedules 2 through 5 can be prescribed. Methamphetamine is schedule 2.
Unfortunately, Cannabis is still federally classified as schedule 1. Controlled substances in this group, according to the DEA, have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug, even under medical supervision. The interplay between Virginia law and federal law, which constitutionally is the supreme law of the land, creates a unique problem. Virginia doctors cannot prescribe medical cannabis in any form until Congress removes cannabis from Schedule 1. Prescription allows for the person to legally possess the substance, on their person, in the car, in their home, and, often, even in their workplace, without fear of harassment or arrest.
Virginia’s Certification for a Medical Patient.
No medical patient can be prescribed medical cannabis under current federal law. Virginia is not significantly better. Only intractable epilepsy patients have any legal medical cannabis access. Virginia’s marijuana law reform advocates suggested a certification in lieu of a prescription. The certification is a simple, one page form. Only neurologists and epilepsy specialist may certify a patient’s medical cannabis use.
Doctors make out the certification for the patient, as an adult, or to the legal guardian of an incapacitated adult or minor. The certification can only last for one year, or less, as directed by the certifying doctor. The patient (or guardian) and certifying doctor sign the certification. Then, the person named on the certificate has an affirmative defense if arrested and prosecuted for possession of marijuana extracts. The Virginia program exclusively permits medical cannabis oils with statutory cannabinoids thresholds. Patients are reminded that the certificate offers merely an affirmative defense, not full legalization, by the bottom third of the certificate, “to be completed as necessary by the defendant.” The patient, or defense attorney, must fill out this portion and offer the certificate to the prosecuting attorney to prevent conviction of marijuana possession.
Patient-List Legislation Chokes Life-Changing Access.
Medical Patients are the most fluid and diverse group in America. Any person can become a patient of most diseases at any time. Any person can become a medical patient at any moment. This regardless of the person’s race, sexual identity or orientation, education, occupation, wealth, class, or geography – even their religion. Cancer, Crohn’s, Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS, mental illness, or even sources of pain often come unannounced and unexpected. Medical patients in Virginia do not have the right to seek cannabis as a treatment. This despite volumes of evidence from around the world showing it may benefit them or their quality of life. Potentially, it may even save their love one’s the pain of their passing. Unless you have intractable epilepsy.
Virginia law must let doctors decide if medical cannabis is a treatment option for their patient rather than adding illnesses individually. Virginia Cannabis Group is working hard to ensure that Virginia’s newly authorized medical cannabis pharmaceutical processor program is accessible, successful, and beneficial to Virginia cannabusinesses and medical patients.