HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — New legislation allows in-state production and sales of medical cannabis oils to patients with a doctor's note and Hampton may be one of the cities in the state where you can find it.
It's a big change from a previous law that only gave some legal protection to patients who used the oils to treat epilepsy.
The Virginia Board of Pharmacy is only approving five conditional permits for medical marijuana dispensaries, one for each of the five health districts in the state.
"I think it changes lives and I really want to be able to bring it to the Hampton and District 5 community," said CEO of RX Native Pharmaceuticals, Chantra Stevenson.
Chantra Stevenson is the CEO of Hampton-based start up company, Rx Native Pharmaceuticals.
The company is looking to invest $8 million dollars into bringing a dispensary to Hampton.
They're one of 15 applicants seeking a permit for District 5 from the board. Health District 5 is made up of 24 localities, which stretches past Williamsburg, up to the Northern Neck, and all the way to Virginia Beach.
Stevenson believes their location is key being awarded.
"We are centrally located, no matter where you are in District 5 it takes the same amount of time to get there," said Stevenson.
If awarded, the business would grow, make and sell the medicinal cannabis oil, which doesn't contain the psychoactive components that get you high.
Rx Native has already leased a 30,000 square foot property for their proposed dispensary, located just off Nasa Drive.
"You'd meet a pharmacy tech or patient rep to talk to you and fill your prescription like you would at any pharmacy," she explained, describing the process for potential patient.
Stevenson says if they get the conditional approval, the company would bring in about 100 new jobs to the city in the beginning, and up to 300 once they get going.
Hampton city officials who discussed the zoning for it back in June think it could be good for the city.
"It's potentially a great business opportunity for Hampton, I don't think anybody has a real problem with medical marijuana and particularly, if they take out the substance that gets everybody high, to me it's no different than anything else, other than growing the plant, said Hampton Councilwoman Eleanor Brown during the meeting.
Stevenson says she's so passionate about the business because of how it helped her make it through hard times.
"In 2015, I was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer. I underwent two surgeries a couple rounds of chemo and radiation. In that two months or so my whole world just kind of flipped upside down, I have a daughter who's eight, a husband, and just trying to hold on and be a part of their life was really hard. A friend of mine introduced me to CBD oils and capsules and just switching from pain medication to that, I was able to become an active member of life again," she explained.
She wants to bring the same relief to the Hampton Roads community.
The Virginia Board of Pharmacy is scheduled to award an applicant by September 25.
If Rx Native is chosen, she says they could be up and running as early as the winter of 2019.