How to Get a Medical Marijuana Card in Virginia [2020]

Traditionally, Virginia hasn’t come up too much in conversation when talking about U.S. states with the most open medical marijuana laws. In fact, due to the state’s restrictive stance on all things cannabis, most experts do not even consider Virginia as having a “workable” medical cannabis program.

That said, for those patients who could potentially benefit from the use of cannabis, there is a relatively clear outline for how to get medical marijuana in Virginia – or at least the closest thing to ‘medical marijuana’.

| Medical marijuana in Virginia has been non-existent in years past. However, there is now a pathway for those who wish to obtain certain products under a doctor’s permission.

In this article, we discuss all you need to know about medical marijuana in Virginia; what sorts of products (if any) are available to buy, how you can potentially possess certain cannabis extracts under a doctor’s certificate, and what residents of the state can expect in the coming months and years in terms of the progression of Virginia medical marijuana.

Medical Marijuana in Virginia: The Basics

*[The following is simply a brief rundown on cannabis regulations in Virginia – none of the following information should be taken as legal advice!]

Simply put, if you’re wondering how to get medical marijuana in Virginia you should know that the state’s program is highly restrictive. In fact, there has actually been no legislation passed that allows for the “legal” medical use or possession of cannabis in the state.

Rather, what exists is an “Affirmative Defense” for patients who use or possess certain cannabis oils (more on what exactly these are later) under the permission of a doctor. In other words, if a Virginia resident can obtain a physician’s written permission to use cannabis oil for a certain condition, they may be afforded protection from criminal prosecution.

Here are the basics of all you need to know about medical marijuana in Virginia:


Things to understandDescription
Virginia does not have an
actual medical marijuana program
Virginia does not actually have a specific program that legalizes medical marijuana. Rather, they offer Affirmative Defense that potentially allows select individuals to possess certain cannabis oils under the permission of a licensed Virginia doctor.
“Affirmative Defense” is
not medical marijuana
Even if you do obtain a doctor’s written permission to use cannabis oil in the state of Virginia, this does not mean you are legally allowed to possess them. It simply means that if arrested on charges of marijuana, you may be offered protection/exemption from criminal prosecution.
It’s completely up
to the doctor, but…
There are no specific medical conditions that “qualify” for Affirmative Defense in Virginia. It is completely up to the doctor whether or not they want to grant patients permission to use cannabis – however, very few doctors in Virginia are willing to participate in the Affirmative Defense program, likely given the lack of incentive that exists on their behalf.
You are still at riskAgain, even if you do obtain written permission from a Virginia doctor to treat your medical condition with cannabis oil, be advised that this does not mean you are legally allowed to possess it. As mentioned earlier, it simply means that if arrested, you may be granted exemption from prosecution.
Nowhere to buyAlso, be advised that the Affirmative Defense does not offer Virginia residents any options for buying cannabis products in the state. As such, you likely are putting yourself at risk from purchasing illegal products, or purchasing legal products in another state and transporting them across state lines to Virginia – which is illegal. Clearly, there are tangible issues in practicality with regard to cannabis use in Virginia.

Medical Cannabis in Virginia: What Exactly is Allowed?

Even if you do find a doctor in Virginia that is willing to grant you written permission to use cannabis to treat a medical condition, be advised you are still restricted in terms of what products are included under your Affirmative Defense protection.

| The only cannabis products that are “allowed” in Virginia are CBD oil and THC-A oil – neither of which produce a psychoactive high.

Furthermore, Virginia law stipulates that:

  • CBD oil must be at least 15% CBD, and no more than 5% THC
  • THC-A oil must be at least 15% THC-A, and no more than 5% THC

And to be fair, we are not even aware that such a product as “THC-A oil” even exists, so this adds a further element of impracticality to the already muddled Virginia “medical marijuana” program.

What is CBD and THC-A?

To be clear, CBD and THC-A are non-psychoactive components of the cannabis plant. There are studies showing that these compounds may offer some of the therapeutic health benefits of cannabis, but they do not produce a high.

CBD oil is a relatively popular, easily-accessible product in most states where cannabis is legal (it is even readily available online to be shipped to all 50 states), but again, obtaining Affirmative Defense in Virginia does not mean you are “legally” allowed to buy these products or bring them into the state of Virginia (though many people do).

How to Get a Doctor’s Permission to Use Cannabis in Virginia

If you are interested in taking the appropriate steps to obtaining Affirmative Defense in Virginia, there in fact is a pretty clear pathway as to how to go about doing it. Here are the basic steps you’ll need to take, outlined for convenience:

1. Find a doctor

The first step would be to find a licensed doctor in the state of Virginia that would be willing to talk to you about your condition, and the possibility of issuing you a written permission to use cannabis oil as a treatment. Any physician who permits treatment of a condition with cannabis must be registered with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy. If your physician is not registered, you can search the state’s database of licensed practicing physicians to try and find one that is.

The doctor will have to issue you a written permission on an official form available through the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, which can be found here.

2. Submit an online application

If you do in fact find a doctor that is able to issue you a written permission to use cannabis, be advised that you still need to register yourself in the state’s Board of Pharmacy – a written permission by itself is NO LONGER an acceptable means to validate the Affirmative Defense!

You can find the online application here, though be advised it costs $50 and you may not apply until after you’ve received your written doctor’s permission. Also, be advised that if you already have a written permission that is currently valid, you still need to pay the $50 and register with the Board of Pharmacy, otherwise your written certification may not be applicable as an Affirmative Defense, if needed.

FAQ | How to Get Medical Marijuana in Virginia

To help clarify some of the most common questions that residents of the state of Virginia have about buying, using, and possessing cannabis products, here is a short FAQ we have put together to try and help. Of course, if you have any additional questions feel free to leave a comment below or message us through Facebook – we’re here to help.


Not exactly. Virginia offers “Affirmative Defense” for certain individuals who have received written certification from a doctor to use select cannabis oils to treat a specific condition. This Affirmative Defense does not legalize the use or possession of cannabis in Virginia – rather, it protects qualified individuals from potential criminal punishment if caught with cannabis oil. Medical marijuana is NOT legal in Virginia.


Yes, it involves finding a physician to issue you a written certification, and paying the $50 application to register with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy (after receiving your written certification). See above for more details.


The application to register with the Board of Pharmacy is $50.


No. There are currently no options in place to buy any marijuana products in Virginia. However, the state is in the process of approving five companies that will be authorized to dispense legal cannabis products to qualified patients. These may begin opening as early as summer 2019.


Even with a written physician certification and an approved registration with the Board of Pharmacy, no form of cannabis is legal in Virginia. The only products that are potentially protected under the Affirmative Defense law are low-THC CBD oils (at least 15% CBD and no more than 5% THC), and THC-A oils (at least 15% THC-A and no more than 5% THC).


See above section “How to Get a Doctor’s Permission to Use Cannabis in Virginia” for information on how to find a Virginia medical marijuana doctor.


There are several companies that sell high-quality hemp CBD oil online and ship to all 50 states (including Virginia) under the U.S. Farm Bill. You can check out this article for some top brands that currently sell and ship to Virginia.

Medical Marijuana in Virginia: Final Thoughts

As you can see, medical marijuana in Virginia really is not even legal – at least not in the sense that it is legal in other states. Rather than offering a program which legalizes the sale and possession of medical cannabis to qualified patients, Virginia offers “Affirmative Defense” for select individuals who have obtained certification from a doctor, and who have successfully registered online with the state’s Board of Pharmacy.

This Affirmative Defense does not legalize any form of marijuana in the state, but rather offers protection for qualified individuals who are in possession of low-THC cannabis oils (see above for info on what type of products qualify).

If you have any firsthand experience with medical marijuana in Virginia, or if you have any additional questions or concerns, be sure to leave a comment below or get in touch with us on our Facebook page.