Getting to Know the 4 Licensed VA Dispensaries

Weed is legal in Virginia, but you won’t find it without registering as a medical patient and visiting one of the four medical dispensaries – which each cover a Health Service Area, or HSA. The lucky winners were awarded a completely vertical operation which means they grow, process, package, sell, and deliver marijuana products from their in-house dispensaries. On July 1st, the newest Virginia weed laws allowed for the introduction of flower to Virginia dispensaries, so look for that starting in September!

Patients are not limited to visiting the single dispensary in their Health Service Area and you are free to visit any of the four, in case you’re on vacation at the beach or whatevs.

How to Find Virginia Weed in 2021

There are currently four Virginia medical marijuana providers that registered patients can shop at, with a 5th area (HSA 1) temporarily without a provider. The folks at Dharma Pharmaceuticals are shaping up to be the go-to doctors for the Virginia cannabis scene, Jushi’s retail brand Beyond / Hello seems to be raising the bar with patient-oriented online resources, Green Leaf is the state’s most prominent extract processor although they’ve now been fully acquired by Columbia Care, the fourth and final operating provider for medical marijuana in Virginia. Let’s take a closer look!

Dharma Pharmaceuticals Virginia Medical Marijuana

Dharma Pharmaceuticals is the only remaining Virginia start-up to hold onto their license. They recently moved to Abingdon from Bristol but will still be covering Area 3, the southwestern part of Virginia, including the cities of Radford, Covington, Salem, Bedford, Lynchburg, Danville and Martinsville.

The Washington Post calls them a mom-and-pop operation. Looks like they partnered with Blue Diamond Consulting on their winning application. Dharma is led by Michael Johnson, a pharmacist from Abingdon who also runs a drug store called Michael’s Pharmacy. Awww. They’re totes adorbz you guys.

Out of the dispensaries in Virginia, Dharma is the only one that feels like it gives any weight to the “medical” part. More average cannabis users may prefer to select from their offerings of gLeaf products, but on the other hand, those treating a serious ailment may find Dharma to be their best resource.

Their products are’t exactly strain specific, but they use terpene blends concocted by the legendary Dr. Ethan Russo (director of development for Sativex, among other accolades) and test results for each individual batch will help you and Dharma zoom in on your preferred chemotype, which is not so much about flavors as it is the ratios of various cannabinoids and terpenes. There’s something to be said for consistency and nobody is dispensing Virginia medical marijuana quite like Dharma is.

Summary: Their relatively small number of offerings could feel limiting, but they provide tinctures, suppositories, topicals, and vape refills that may not be found elsewhere. Dharma’s background in operating a compound pharmacy gives them bonafide experience in blending isolated ingredients into therapeutic formulas, and with Dr. Ethan Russo’s guidance, that’s exactly what they’ve done with medical marijuana in Virginia. For patients with concerns about toxic byproducts produced by vape cartridge viscosity agents, being able to look up the terpene blends they use is not only peace of mind, it’s a hell of a learning tool! Additionally, the low potency of Green Leaf cartridges certainly raises an eyebrow regarding the possibility of added fillers that have not been well researched for potentially harmful effects.

Best Deals: Dharma refill syringes are $90/g and on average 50% more potent than gLeaf cartridges, which cost around $120/g (in 0.5g amounts). 

Unique Offering: For now, they are the only ones offering Live Rosin cartridges from Gleaf, including an 80% THC Uncle Phil, but it’s $90 for a half gram! When that changes, they’re likely to be the only ones I’d ever trust with actual medical advice, and for patients newer to cannabis use, their craft-blend tinctures are perfect for titrating oral doses. 

Beyond/Hello Medical Marijuana in Virginia

NoVA, my baby, my boobalah! Formerly Dalitso, your Area 2 Virginia medical marijuana dispenary is now Beyond / Hello. They’ll be handling Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William Counties. They are a brand of Jushi, which operates in 9 states, including the recreational markets of California, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Interestingly, they only have offices in states where they don’t have operations, so their dispensaries in Virginia are the only place you’ll track them down without a trip to New York, Colorado, or Florida!

Beyond / Hello’s Cannabis & Me is our favorite online primer for medical marijuana in Virginia, and their website has detailed profiles for brands they carry and a full product inventory list to boot. It will even automatically parse their dispensaries to check for nearby availability!

Their menu uses roman numerals to note the ‘filial’ or inbred generation of the genetics and while it’s a conventional typical in research papers, the info is useful to breeders, not consumers, so we think that may end up being more confusing than helpful. For clarity, when a regular number follows a strain name (such as Gelato 33) it typically denotes a particular phenotype and not a filial generation, which more commonly follows the letter “F” in the cannabis industry.

When it comes to inventory, they stock more than Dharma and Columbia Care, but not as much as gLeaf. Some fairly unique strains can be found, including this Koffee F2 with 8.4% CBG, or cannabigerol, a non-psychoactive precursor to THC and CBD that has broad therapeutic potential for cancer, brain, and nervous system treatments. CBG is also reputed to stimulate the body’s production of anandamide, the endogenous cannabinoid (your body makes it naturally)! 

No product sales are currently being offered, but they do have a promotion on free delivery.

Summary: Large multi-state operator with a superior website and online education tools provides a menu with adequate variety for a number of preferences, including some fairly notable strains mixed in with choices of unknown pedigree.

Best Deals: Free Delivery

Unique Offerings: Product line up is almost entirely gLeaf products, but the currently available Kaya Koffee has a whopping 8.4% CBG!

Green Leaf Virginia Marijuana Business 

You already know Green Leaf from Maryland! Operating out of Frederick, gLeaf is one of the few Maryland locals that earned a grow license in the Old Line State. Now that marijauna is legal in Virginia, they’re bringing the act to Richmond and the surrounding counties of Area 4.

Green Leaf’s dispensary is located in the South Richmond neighborhood of Manchester.

The acquisition of Green Leaf by Columbia Care closed on June 11th, so expect some ongoing adjustments to their operation as that takes shape.

I’ve got a review of a gLeaf’s vape cartridge from Maryland that I absolutely loved. I’ve seen some very decent, reasonably priced wax from them too. I didn’t love their early flowers and I tried several, but that was back in 2019. Couldn’t speak to the current crop.

gLeaf’s menu not only provides the best selection of the marijuana Virginia has to offer, they’ve got discounts on about a dozen products. Edibles, topicals, and tinctures complement multiple CBD vapes that allow patients to explore the absolutely crucial proportions of THC:CBD in order to find what works best. Spend $200 for free delivery, which is a lot but not hard to do with the prices on Virginia cannabis products!

Summary: gLeaf is a multi-state operator exclusive to highly regulated medical states, but it offers the best selection and better prices than the other dispensaries, a one-stop shop for Virginia weed!

Best Deals: Limited time offers can give discounts of over 40% on select vape cartridges. We’re not sure if these sales are related to the acquisition by Columbia Care, so it’s a good time to stock up if you can.

Columbia Care

Area 5 are the Shore Babies! Eastern Shore, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Hampton and Virginia Beach and the surrounding counties will be served by Columbia Care. Columbia Care has selected Portsmouth as their dispensary site.

Columbia Care is led by Michael Abbott and Nicholas Vita, a pair of former Goldman Sachs guys. Gross. But we all have a past, yes? I had something of a shoe-sniffing problem myself once. I’m still not allowed on the third floor.

NY-based Columbia Care is humongous. They’ve got operations in nine states altogether, plus Puerto Rico and Malta. Do you even know where Malta is? It’s one of those James Bond countries, like, near France, right? Off the coast of France? ((Ed: It is not off the coast of France))

Columbia Care has won the license to opening the first dispensary in Manhattan.

Not only that, they own a little shop in DC, too – Capital City Care. Duh duh duuh! I really liked the most recent CCC Chocolope flower I had. Predictably, Columbia Care has opened a dispensary in Maryland, too.

Besides a slightly lacking selection and less discounts, they have uploaded ant-sized test results for their products so you’ll have to consult gLeaf resources to get that information. And most of them don’t even have indica/sativa/hybrid labels! We’ve heard mixed reviews on Columbia Care across the country but they seem to be intent on boxing out Virginia marijuana producers and becoming a staple of the marijuana Virginia has to offer in the long run, so we’ll keep our eyes peeled as this develops.

Summary: Similar to gLeaf but with slightly smaller selection and less discounting. If you can’t beat a Virginia medical marijuana provider, buy em! Currently no sativa products in stock, and CBD is only found in a tincture.

Best Deals: 10% off for veterans, seniors, and those on SSI, Medicaid, or Medicare. 

What Health Service Area Are You?

Here’s a link to the list of counties and cities assigned to each cannabis Health Service Area in Virginia, or better yet, a nice color map of the same thing. If you are in HSA 1, you’re out of luck for now thanks to the shameless greed and legal hijinks of PharmaCann (which became MedMen, and now ZenLeaf), who have become infamous for acting like a spoiled toddler over, and over, and over again. Basically, when PharmaCann turned over their Virginia license to MedMen, a conditional agreement between MedMen and the Virginia Board of Pharmacy allowed them leniency that no other license got, but instead of launching operations in the extra allotted time, they fucking sued again, and now we have to wait for that mockery to be resolved so the people of Virginia can get what they legally deserve.

How Do I Sign Up as a VA patient?

Here’s the list of doctors registered with Virginia’s cannabis program. When searching, set the Occupation to “Registered Physician for CBD/THC-A oil”. VA Norml also has their own practitioner list that you might find easier to navigate. Your doctor will certify his suggestion for your medical cannabis use and recommend the amount you’ll be permitted to purchase in a 90 day span. Unlike many other states, you won’t need an approved medical condition to receive a recommendation.

Once certified, Virginia medical marijuana patients pay $50 to register, and $25 for a parent/guardian or caretaker when necessary. Here’s a link with more detail from VA Norml on How to Register and here’s a patient FAQ from the state Board of Pharmacy.

And a TLDR about the unique quirks of Virginia’s medical program from yours truly.

Virginia Marijuana Checklist

We’ve finally gotten the answer to “When is weed legal in Virginia?” but Virginia marijuana legalization will take years to implement, so thankfully the 2021 legalization bill has allowed flower to be sold at Virginia medical marijuana retailers in the meantime. All you’ve got to do is find a doctor, get their recommendation, register that with the state, and fork over a little cash! They’ll even deliver to you!

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