Would you like to win a Virginia Pharmaceutical Processor License? In 2021, the Commonwealth legalized personal possession, cultivation, and sharing of cannabis for all adults. However, the General Assembly subsequently declined to enact the legislative framework necessary to create an adult-use retail market.
Therefore, medical cannabis continues to be the only legal marijuana market in Virginia. Still, expectations are alive that the General Assembly will address adult-use business licenses in future sessions to discourage non-medical cannabis users from turning to illicit markets for supply.
Meanwhile, the Virginia medical cannabis market is thriving. Below we describe the current program and provide tips on how to win licenses.
Virginia Pharmaceutical Processor License Consultants
Medical Cannabis Program Overview
Several agencies administer the cannabis program in Virginia. All statutory and regulatory oversight of the medical cannabis program has transitioned from the Virginia Board of Pharmacy to the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (“CCA”, or “Authority” and also referred to as “the Board”). It assumed control of the Medical Cannabis Program on January 1, 2024.
Additionally, Virginia’s adult-use legalization law created a Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council to advise the CCA on all health-related matters. The CCA, in collaboration with the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council and interagency partners, is currently developing several public health initiatives and guidance. Next, we look forward to further rule-making for the implementation of an adult-use program.
Meanwhile, we expect the CCA will soon release an RFA for the one remaining, and as yet un-awarded, medical cannabis business permit in Virginia.
Application Process for a Virginia pharmaceutical processor license
Pharmaceutical processor permit applications will only be accepted during an open Request for Application (RFA) period. Keep up to date with CCA news and events because the open application period will be announced through their website. You may also sign up for email notices.
In the meantime, why not get a head start and begin preparing for the next RFA? Our cannabis consultants will coach you every step of the way and manage your application from start to finish. We’ll write your business plan, operating plan, retail plan and all technical writing requirements of the applications. In addition, we’ll ensure that you have compliant contracts with security vendors and contractors.
Next, let’s take a look at the timeline for the one remaining medical processor license from the last RFA. Keep in mind that once the CCA develops its rules for implementation of adult-use, the application process for future RFAs could move quickly.
The application process timeline will be in four stages:
First, CCA will accept submissions of the initial applications. Next, it will review and score the applications, and award applicants with conditional approval. And finally, CCA will grant the pharmaceutical processor permit if the applicant has passed the conditional period.
We’ll update this page with a more detailed timeline once the Authority announces further guidance.
Number of Licenses
CCA will issue one permit in each of the five health service areas (HSA) as established by the Virginia Department of Health.
Pharmaceutical Processor and Cannabis Dispensing Facility Permit Fees
As in many states where cannabis is legalized, whether medically or recreationally, Virginia applies some hefty fees for the opportunity to provide legal cannabis to patients and/or the public. Be that as it may, no risk, no reward!
Fortunately, Virginia does provide financial and organizational support for entrepreneurs through its social equity program. In the previous RFA, social equity applicants were subject to lowered application fees and priority review. In addition, the Act called for the establishment of a Cannabis Business Equity and Diversity Support Team for small, women-owned, minority-owned, and veteran-owned businesses.
Table 1: Fee schedule for pharmaceutical processor and dispensing facility permits, from CCA.
|Type of Fee
Initial Permit Fee
Annual Renewal Fee
|Cannabis Dispensing Facility
Initial Permit Fee
Annual Renewal Fee
Tips for winning a Virginia pharmaceutical processor license
Below we provide our tips for the anticipated application process for the next RFA for a cannabis processor license in Virginia.
Step 1: Read the Laws and Regulations
Our cannabis license consultants suggest you begin by reading the laws and rules of the Virginia cannabis program. Specifically, you should read the following:
- Cannabis Control Act (legalizing adult-use marijuana on July 1, 2021)
- Article 4.2 of Chapter 34, Title 54.1 of Code of Virginia (effective until Jan 1, 2024, and pending reenactment)
As stated above, the Authority oversees the Virginia cannabis program and approves all cannabis business applications. Check their website regularly to keep up to date – it’s clear and informative.
Step 2: Determine if you’re eligible
To qualify for a Virginia pharmaceutical processor or dispensing license, your applying entity must be majority-owned by individuals who meet the eligibility requirements stated within the rules for granting a pharmaceutical processor permit (Section 18VAC110-60-130).
Provisions within this section may be countermanded in the adoption of new rules, including the necessity for a Pharmacist In Charge (PIC) on every site. Until formal adoption of new rules, ensure all your ownership can pass background checks!
Not sure if you qualify? Contact our cannabis consulting firm to help you determine if you’re eligible.
Step 3: Engage a consultant
We understand how difficult it can be to read through hundreds of pages of laws while trying to create a business simultaneously. That’s why we suggest you engage some of the best cannabis application writers in the world – Quantum 9! By doing so, you will maximize the success of your pharmaceutical processor or dispensing license application.
First of all, our Virginia cannabis business consultants can manage your application from start to finish, including assistance with location and real estate. We have been winning licenses for over a decade. Notably, we have one of the highest success rates in the industry at winning cannabis business licenses (+91%).
Lastly, our experienced team assists with executive coaching, team recruitment, and facility selection and design, to lighting and energy plans, and cannabis waste and wastewater management. We handle environmental plans and supplier agreements, including setting up compliant state procurement contracts.
Step 4: Form a business entity for your Virginia pharmaceutical processor license
Next, you will need to form a business entity for your medical cannabis processor application in Virginia. We find that most marijuana applicants form LLCs or corporations for their applications. That being said, consult with your attorney to decide what entity is best for your business.
Next, let’s discuss your cannabis business plan.
Step 5: Develop a business plan
If you’re planning to raise capital for your venture, it is a good idea to develop a business plan that communicates your goals and the return on investment for investors.
During the license application process, you’ll need capital to pay for property, attorneys, architects, consultants, and more. Furthermore, you’ll need significant capital to launch your Virginia pharmaceutical processor license if you are awarded.
Step 6: Build a team
Firstly, you will be scored on your team’s expertise and qualifications as proof that you are the best applicant to receive a pharmaceutical processor license and promptly fulfill safe and compliant dispensing for medical patients in Virginia. Therefore, providing proof of the quality of your team is crucial.
Fortunately, we can help you build a dream cannabis team for your medical marijuana business. Additionally, as part of our Virginia cannabis license consulting, Quantum 9 offers talent acquisition services.
Step 7: Raise capital
As described in the previous step, if you plan to raise capital, our Virginia cannabis consultants suggest you begin as soon as possible. Work with Quantum 9’s business planning services to develop a cannabis business plan that will impress and encourage investors.
Now that you’re working on building capital, let’s discuss the importance of facility location.
Step 8: Choose a location for your Virginia pharmaceutical processor license
You must secure a facility for your Virginia license application, whether by outright ownership or lease agreement, proof of which must be included in your application. Make sure the facility is zoned correctly and complies with the state and local requirements.
Not only that, but location can be one of the biggest factors in the success of your application and business. Research carefully.
Also, as discussed above, Virginia splits the Commonwealth into five “Health Service Areas.” The CCA will issue one processor license in each area. Additionally, the Authority allows up to five dispensing licenses per awarded processor. Keep this in mind when choosing your location and building local support for your prospective business.
Step 9: Garner local support for your Virginia pharmaceutical processor license
As part of your application, you must provide evidence that your facility is appropriately zoned and complies with the local ordinances. Most importantly, you should research how “cannabis-friendly” are your prospective locations.
We recommend working closely with the local government and community leaders to explore your business plans and find the right fit. Our Virginia cannabis consultants possess vast cannabis business experience with both medical and adult-use friendly states.
We can help you develop clear pathways of communication with the local authorities and also promote the benefits of your prospective pharmaceutical processing and dispensing businesses for any Virginia locality.
Step 10: Write and submit your application for a Virginia pharmaceutical processor license
Finally, it’s time to write your cannabis business license application. Your application must include all items outlined below. If your submitted material does not meet the requirements, your application will be rejected.
We expect that the application will follow the basic requirements of the RFA for the previous pharmaceutical permits, released in 2020. It will be a competitive and scored process.
The application round for the last permit available in HSA 1 ended in the Fall of 2023. The Board of Pharmacy ultimately rescinded the process and transferred control to the CCA. Prepare for when the CCA releases the RFA for that remaining permit in HSA 1 – take a look at the previous application requirements. At a minimum, the applicant must provide proof of, and plans for, the following:
- Financial Position
- Location within the Health Service Area
- Security Plans
- Authorization to Conduct Business
- Industry Involvement and Disciplinary Action
- Agriculture, Production, and Dispensing Expertise
- Marketing Plans
- Facility Exterior and Blueprint
- Product and Site Safety
- Expected Hours of Operation
- Compassionate Need Plan
- Delivery Service Plan
- Research Plan
Why risk your capital on an application that would get disqualified? Reduce your risk and stress by working with our Virginia cannabis consultants. Let Quantum 9 complete your application for you. Additionally, as part of our Virginia cannabis license consulting, we provide post-licensure advisory services.
Our Virginia pharmaceutical processor consultants guide you in all aspects involved to win a cannabis license. In addition, we offer post-licensure advisory services. With a proven record of winning cannabis licenses for clients in over 27 US states, and six countries, we’re prepared to help you do the same. Therefore, let us help you become a medical cannabis processor owner in Virginia.
It’s not clear yet when the CCA will issue a new RFA, but if you’re interested, you should begin preparing now. If you have any questions, reach out and engage our expert cannabis consultants. We’ll be by your side all the way to help achieve your dream cannabis business in Virginia!
Additional Information related to Virginia pharmaceutical processor licenses
Authorized Conduct for medical cannabis business licenses
CCA awards the permits for processor licensees to cultivate, manufacture, and dispense medical cannabis to qualified patients from one location. They can then operate an additional five dispensaries at separate locations, as permitted by the Authority. All such locations must be within the same HSA, and share partial permitted ownership.
Also, with commendable foresight and input, the CCA allows authorized pharmaceutical processors to wholesale cannabis and cannabis products among other processors.
Additional Resources for Virginia cannabis licenses