Archive for January, 2022

Marijuana: Medical and Adult Use In Virginia

Friday, January 14th, 2022

Ngiste Abebe provided a two-part program: medical marijuana, and adult use marijuana (legalized/decriminalized recreational use).  She answered many questions from the Zoom audience.  The program was moderated by SSV Vice President Peyton Williams.

A video of the presentation can be accessed by clicking here.

You can listen to a podcast of the presentation by clicking below.


Ngiste Abebe is vice president of public policy at Columbia Care, one of the nation’s leading medical cannabis companies. She serves as the president of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association and on the board of the District of Columbia Cannabis Trade Association. Prior to that, she was co-founder of Undaunted Ventures, a political consulting firm which specializes in innovative narrative, training, and leadership coaching services, and which grew out of her work training progressive organizations and working on campaigns across Virginia. She is the co-founder and co-director emerita of New Leaders Council Virginia, a progressive leadership institute. Ngiste holds a BA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University. She’s a NORML board member, vice president of Public Policy for Columbia Care (industry-leading medical marijuana dispensary) and newly appointed by Governor Northam to the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Board. She happily gives and receives recommendations for sci-fi novels and board games.

Program Summary

Ngiste Abebe’s presentation focused on the medical marijuana program and adult legalized use in Virginia. The original legalized use (2018) of cannabis in Virginia was for pediatric seizures. Currently its primary use is for pain, anxiety and insomnia as prescribed by a certified practitioner. Registration at the Board of Pharmacy is necessary for individuals or medical personnel to prescribe the drug. Unless registered, health care providers can talk to patients about the drug but cannot prescribe it. Lack of resources, including basic knowledge and locations to buy the drug, prevent having easy access to legal cannabis for medical use. The nearest available resource to Charlottesville is Salem, Virginia. In addition, complying with state regulations is challenging for sellers and growers to accomplish.

Legal adult recreational use is now up to one ounce and four individual cannabis per adult in Virginia.  Because marijuana is illegal at the federal level, one cannot buy cannabis for recreational use through providers where medical marijuana is sold legally in Virginia. In other areas where pot is sold legally it is a strictly cash operation. Business owners cannot use banks (federal law) and are subject to robbery and excessive security costs. (The illegal pot industry is an estimated $2 billion.)  In spite of all the challenges, legalization of marijuana in Virginia has bipartisan support in the General Assembly. Ms. Abede suggests the following links for more information:

Virginia NORML:
Weekly Facebook Live on Fridays at 4pm:
Action alerts:

Cannabis certification provider:

How to register with Board of Pharmacy: