On the heels of decriminalization and legalizing medical marijuana, Virginia’s first dispensary is set to open in August 2020. Through the current system of licensing, only five vertically-integrated entities will operate within the state initially – with Dharma representing the first scheduled opening.
Initial profit predictions are middling, as Virginia will allow only a small subset of marijuana-based products at these dispensaries. Despite that, investors and customers remain optimistic given lawmakers stated intent to work towards full legalization as early as next year.
According to the Marijuana Business Factbook, the Virginia medical cannabis market is projected to see sales of around $9 million-$11 million through its first full year. By 2024, Virginia’s medical marijuana market is estimated to see sales as high as $55 million.
In part, these rapid shifts in legislature are the result of a blue wave claiming Virginia in 2018. Democratic legislatures have universally been more willing to look into the decriminalization and legalization of marijuana products. Locations where marijuana is available have seen boosts in small business entrepreneurship related to the industry – as well as boosts in tax revenue. Alongside business aspects, a growing body of research suggests that marijuana availability reduces opioid deaths.
Medical Cannabis: Across the Nation
Accompanying Virginia, Utah allowed for the opening of medical marijuana dispensaries back in March. Over the past several months, they have seen several businesses open and begin service. The Church of Latter Day Saints, a prominent Utah fixture, updated their rules to allow for the use of medical marijuana – although smoking and vaping remain banned.
Oklahoma has allowed medical marijuana since 2018 – and now represents one of the largest markets in the United States. This is due to relatively lax regulations that allowed a proliferation of smaller dispensaries. The nascent industry could represent a major boon for Oklahoma – a state that could certainly use it.
Pot and the Pandemic
While many industries saw an adverse impact to the pandemic, marijuana adapted – and sometimes thrived – in the new normal. As hospitals and clinics became hotspots, patients turned to other options. Dispensaries began offering contactless service, resulting in a subsequent rise in profits. Potential patients can often attain a prescription through telemedicine, avoiding a trip to the doctor entirely.
Pandemic-related studies have found that marijuana may even help treat COVID-19. However, these reports should be approached with extreme caution. There are many unknown factors related to the novel coronavirus, and jumping to conclusions could lead to irreparable harm. However, for patients suffering from cancer, and other approved ailments, medical cannabis’s growing acceptance could be another key therapeutic in their treatment.
Article By: Adam Stone