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Legislature advances bill allowing nursing homes to administer medical cannabis

Virginia lawmakers continue to fine tune legislation that aligns with the state’s growing medical cannabis program by advancing two Senate bills that would facilitate the work of caregivers and lab employees. 

Capital News Service

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By Chip Lauterbach

Virginia lawmakers continue to fine tune legislation that aligns with the state’s growing medical cannabis program by advancing two Senate bills facilitating the work of caregivers and lab employees.

SB 185 sponsored by Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant, R-Henrico, would allow employees at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospices to administer CBD and THC-A oil to residents who have a valid written certification to use the medication. SB 885 from Sen. David W. Marsden, D-Fairfax, would remove criminal liabilities for analytical lab workers who transport and possess both substances during the course of their work.

Marsden also introduced legislation to protect individuals from possession charges for having marijuana in the form of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil, if they have valid written certification from a practitioner.

In 2019, Dunnavant and Marsden helped pass legislation signed by the governor to reduce restrictions for patient access to the substances (SB 1557, SB 1719).

CBD products are used to treat epilepsy and to help with pain management for a variety of ailments. The product can be extracted from hemp, a plant in the cannabis family that is typically low in THC. The non psychoactive version of THC is THC-A; it does not produce a high. THC-A has been used to treat seizures, arthritis and chronic pain. Fibers of the hemp plant are also used in making rope, clothing, paper and other products. Hemp recently became legal at the federal level, and its cultivation is still regulated.

There is a distinction between hemp-derived CBD oil and marijuana-derived CBD oil, namely the level of THC present.

Dunnavant told a Senate panel that the bill is needed so that staff at assisted living facilities can be included as those authorized to store and administer both CBD and THC-A to residents and patients. Registered nurses and licensed practice nurses can legally administer the oils. Last year lawmakers passed legislation protecting school nurses from prosecution for possessing or distributing such oils, in accordance with school board policy.

Several nursing homes and assisted living facilities when contacted said that currently the use of CBD or THC-A are not allowed at their locations and that there are no immediate plans to incorporate such use into the care of their residents or patients.

Marsden sees his bill as an opportunity for further research and development of medical marijuana in Virginia. The state pharmaceutical processors permitted to manufacture and dispense marijuana-derived medications can distribute products with doses that do not exceed 10 milligrams of THC.

“If a laboratory is going to handle a drug that is marijuana, they need immunity from prosecution.” Marsden said. “Even if we go into decriminalization, that still has some civil penalties for it.”

Richmonder Brion Scott Turner is glad that steps are being made towards CBD becoming more available. Turner uses CBD to help with his own medical condition.

“I use a CBD infused lotion for my psoriasis,” Turner said. “It gives me relief from the itching and the psoriatic arthritis that comes with it.

Turner has said that most of his friends and family use CBD to help with a variety of ailments from minor headaches to anxiety attacks.

“My mother uses CBD for anything from lower back pain, helping with an upset stomach or even migraines,” Turner said.

Other cannabis related bills moving through the General Assembly include HB 972, which would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana down to a civil penalty of no more than $25. The Senate version of the bill carries a civil penalty of no more than $50.

HJ 130, currently in the Senate Committee of Rules, would direct the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to study options for the regulation of recreational adult use and medical use of cannabis. SJ 67, which has passed the House and Senate, directs JLARC to study options and make recommendations for how Virginia should go about the growth, sale and possession of marijuana. JLARC’s recommendations are due by July 1, 2022.

Both Dunnavant and Marsden’s bills reported out of committee and are headed to the House floor.

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The Capital News Service is a flagship program of VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. In the program, journalism students cover news in Richmond and across Virginia and distribute their stories, photos, and other content to more than 100 newspapers, television and radio stations, and news websites.

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Maymont Garden Glow Cancelled Tonight Due to Weather

Mother Nature is bringing the rain and the wind today so the folks at Maymont want to keep everyone safe and dry.

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Due to the forecast for severe weather during Garden Glow at Maymont tonight, we have decided to cancel the event for 10/29. We hope that you can join us on a different night through Nov. 8. If you have already purchased tickets, please check your email. bit.ly/30oc6ci

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Crime

Four charged for throwing objects at restaurant patrons, rocks at police car, and assaulting officer Tuesday night

On Tuesday night a group of individuals walked through Richmond, eventually damaging vehicles and buildings in several areas in the city and causing unrest. Four were arrested.

RVAHub Staff

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On Tuesday night a group of individuals walked through Richmond, eventually damaging vehicles and buildings in several areas in the city and causing unrest. Four were arrested.

After leaving Monroe Park, the group headed west along West Main Street. At approximately 9:54 p.m., individuals in the group were observed throwing objects at patrons at a restaurant. Soon after, officers observed an individual throw a large stone and damage an RPD K-9 vehicle. A photo of the stone that was recovered is attached. Later, that same individual was seen throwing an object against a business. As officers moved to arrest this individual, a group member assaulted an officer.

An unlawful assembly was not declared and no chemical agents were deployed.

The Department consulted with the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney on possible charges and charged four individuals. Their photos are attached.

Paxton Chapman was charged with obstruction of justice, carrying a concealed weapon, and pedestrian in the roadway.

Saraswati Rowe was charged with obstructing free passage.

Harrison Sellers was charged with inciting a riot and throwing a missile at an occupied vehicle.

Michael Toney was charged with assault on a law enforcement officer.

Anyone with further information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (804) 780-1000.

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Downtown

Become a Richmond tourism ambassador from the comfort of your own home

The free I Am Tourism workshops help participants gain a visitor’s perspective of the region and an understanding of tourism offerings.

RVAHub Staff

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Richmonders have a new way to learn about the region – from home.

Richmond Region Tourism is launching a virtual version of its popular I Am Tourism ambassador workshop on Wednesday, Oct. 28 from 9-11 a.m., with a second session on Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 9-11 a.m. New classes will be held monthly.

The free I Am Tourism workshops help participants gain a visitor’s perspective of the region and an understanding of tourism products and offerings.

The Oct. 28 session includes information about the economic impact of tourism and an overview of the attractions, events and activities in the Richmond region. A virtual tour led by Bill Martin, The Valentine executive director, will guide the class on a custom visit to some of his favorite places.

“The I Am Tourism program is an exciting opportunity for everyone in our community to become knowledgeable and influential representatives of the region,” said Jack Berry, Richmond Region Tourism CEO and president.

The primary reason people travel to the Richmond Region is to visit friends and family. National travel data points to this trend continuing as people continue with more car-based trips during the pandemic. The I Am Tourism classes provided an opportunity for residents to become knowledgeable ambassadors when guests visit.

“Richmond’s hospitality industry hasn’t escaped the devastating financial impact of the pandemic, but we’re seeing signs of growth and progress. The new virtual sessions are an opportunity for the entire community to help the tourism industry and the region’s economic rebound,” Berry said.

Participants must register for the Oct. 28 class by Oct. 27 at noon.

Since the I Am Tourism program launched in 2015, more than 2,600 Ambassadors have gone through the program. Richmond Region Tourism also creates custom classes for employee engagement activities for local businesses.

For more information on upcoming I Am Tourism ambassador trainings and to register, visit visitrichmondva.com.

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