VERONA – The CBD products you see in stores now are not marijuana — they come from the hemp plant, which isn’t regulated (yet). That’s one thing officials wanted to let the packed room know during a question and answer event Wednesday at the Augusta County Government Center.
With medical cannabis facilities, like PharmaCann, coming to Staunton, those products are tested and regulated.
„That’s what’s going to be different about the dispensary versus what people are getting right now,” said Mike Richards, outreach and development manager with PharmaCann.
Representatives from PharmaCann, the Virginia Cannabis Coalition and the Greater Augusta Prevention Partners held the event to field questions from the public on the new medical cannabis dispensary PharmaCann in Staunton. The facility is set to break ground soon and be able to serve patients by the end of the year, according to officials.
Keri Jones, Greater Augusta Prevention Partners coalition coordinator at the Central Shenandoah Valley Office on Youth, said she’s been getting a number of phone calls from residents about marijuana and CBD oil — from growing it, to selling it to buying it.
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It was announced last fall that the Illinois-based medical cannabis company PharmaCann would open a facility at Green Hills Industrial Park off Technology Drive and Commerce Avenue.
Staunton will be home to one of five medical cannabis companies licensed to operate marijuana growing facilities (called pharmaceutical processors) in the state, according to a Virginia Board of Pharmacy decision.
PharmaCann has one year to make it all happen — a timeline that is fast approaching. The company needs to build the facility, start growing and providing medical cannabis to patients. And the company is starting the site from scratch. They bought raw land in the Green Hills Industrial Park, and they’ll need to design the building to certain specifications.
What exactly will be happening there?
The production side and medical office will be completely separate but in the same general facility. Patients coming into the medical office will not see any production — no plants or grow rooms. They will be getting products through PharmaCann’s dispensing agency, Verilife.
The products will come in three forms: edibles capsules, oral liquid drops or topical balms or lotions.
Those who can obtain these products must visit with a certified provider, or physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner, to determine that they are a candidate for the medical cannabis program. Dosage is determined by PharmaCann’s pharmacist and the consultation by the patient’s physician, after the patient is accepted into the medical cannabis program.
First-time patients at the dispensary will go through an intake process to figure out the most appropriate cannabis regiment. That includes budget restraints, symptoms and the ratio of each product.
PharmaCann is also trying to provide a delivery service to help patients who can’t access the dispensary easily.
What is cannabis?
According to the presentation, cannabis can offer a variety of benefits like pain management, reducing symptoms of disease or treatment or promoting positive overall well-being.
Products at the dispensary will include cannabis’ cannabinoids, including tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), in different ratios.
THC is the best-known cannabinoid and is the main psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
Possible benefits of THC include:
- Stimulating the mind
- Relaxing muscles
- Increasing appetite
- Relieving pain
CBD is a cannabinoid that alleviates THC’s psychoactive effects and is used to treat neurological disorders, the presentation said.
Possible benefits of CBD include:
- Lowering inflammation
- Reducing anxiety
- Enhancing sleep
- Controlling seizures
Either THC or CBD products will be mixed with terpenes, which are fragrant, organic oils that give marijuana plants their unique beneficial qualities and flavor. The different terpenes — nearly 200 different types — create a different profile and set of effects, the presentation said. Terpenes bind to the endocannabinoid system throughout the brain and body to deliver beneficial qualities and effects, the presentation said.
Sativa vs. Indica
There are two different plant strains — sativa and indica — which have very different effects and help with different things, according to the presentation.
Sativa has more cerebral effects, which can include euphoria and mental clarity. Sativa is recommended for anxiety, ADHD or depression and is said to reduce stress, increase mental clarity and focus.
Indica has more of a calming and relaxing effect. It’s recommended for insomnia, chronic pain, loss of appetite and anxiety. Indica is supposed to reduce stress and anxiety and relieve nausea, vomiting and pain. It can also stimulate appetite and reduce fatigue.
Or you can get a hybrid of the two, which is recommended for cancer, depression, glaucoma or HIV/AIDS. The hybrid is said to reduce inflammation, relieve nausea and vomiting, relieve pain and stimulate appetite and reduce fatigue.
How will it be regulated here in Virginia?
- State limit on possession amount
- Requires written patient certification by doctor, nurse practitioner or physician assistant
- Requires patient to register with the state
- Statewide system for tracking patients
- Statewide regulation of producers
- Statewide regulated dispensaries
- Patient identification card required by state for sales
- Statewide system for tracking sales
- Seed-to-sale tracking of medical cannabis
- Statewide system for tracking the type and number of medical conditions
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You can reach reporter Laura Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @peterslaura.