Inside Business reports..

“There are number of uncertainties, but there’s a growing interest both from business and from consumers in these products,” said Anne Bibeau, partner at Vandeventer Black in Norfolk. “And as a result, you see these businesses popping up all over the state, and they need legal guidance.”

Vandeventer Black said in a June 4 news release it had formed a new hemp and medical marijuana law practice. As the laws around cannabis struggle to keep up with the industry, attorneys at the firm say they know companies are going to be caught in the crossfire.


“Businesses need to be careful about what they do with their products,” he said.

Medical marijuana is an even trickier tangle of federal and state laws. Under federal law, marijuana possession and production are still illegal. However, in 2015, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed narrow and specific medical marijuana legislation into law. It provides something Gallo calls an “affirmative defense” for patients who possess either CBD or THC-A oil and have an official  certificate from a physician.

Producers of these oils are regulated and approved by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy. Since 2016, only five companies have been approved to produce and sell the oils, including Columbia Care in Portsmouth.

The company, which has locations in at least a dozen states, has created an internal team focused on complying with state and federal laws, said Mary-Alice Miller, the company’s chief risk officer. Additionally, Columbia Care employs external legal experts who know the laws in each particular state or locality.

“It’s an enormous challenge for us,” Miller said.

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