Virginia receives 49 applications for the state's first 5 medical cannabis licenses

Virginia has received 49 applications from medical-cannabis companies hoping to be among the first to set up shop in the state, giving officials plenty of options as they prepare to hand out five licenses this summer.

The applications, which required a $10,000 filing fee, were due last week to the Virginia Board of Pharmacy, which is planning to issue licenses to allow one medical cannabis oil dispensary in each of the state’s five health service areas.

Several participants said the number of applications was slightly higher than they expected, indicating a strong interest from local entrepreneurs and established industry players looking for a foothold in Virginia.

“It takes a significant amount of money to build this infrastructure, plus know-how,” said Dave Albo, a former state delegate turned lobbyist representing a Northern Virginia business group, Nova Pharma Processors LLC, that has applied for a license.

“I’m surprised that many people were able to organize in that period of time,” said Jake Bergmann, the founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Surterra Holdings, which applied in three of the five health areas.

The state opened the application process in mid-April.

Interest was highest in the Hampton Roads area, which saw 15 applications. Northern Virginia, with its high-priced real estate, drew seven applications, the fewest of any region. The service area that includes Richmond had nine applications.

The state is not releasing the applications themselves because they contain proprietary information.

The General Assembly recently passed legislation to allow in-state production and sales of medical cannabis oils to any patient with a certificate from a doctor, expanding on a law that initially only provided some legal protection for patients who wanted to use CBD oil or THC-A oil to treat severe epilepsy.

The legislature passed a law preventing epilepsy patients from being

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