The Virginia Senate voted unanimously Monday to pass the Joint Commission on Health Care bill SB 726, which will let Virginia doctors recommend the use of cannabidiol oil or THC-A oil for the treatment of any diagnosed condition or disease.
This comes on the heels of Friday’s unanimous passing of the companion bill, HB 1251, in the Virginia House of Delegates.
“I finally decided that I needed to advocate for the physicians being the decision makers,” said Senator Siobhan Dunnavant, the chief patron of the Senate bill. “We, physicians, are the ones that follow the literature and know which treatments are best for different conditions. The literature on medical cannabis is going to be evolving rapidly now, and because of this, it is not a decision that should be in the hands of the legislature. Instead, it should be with physicians.”
Regular Virginians suffering from a variety of conditions — including cancer, Crohn’s disease, and PTSD – have lobbied passionately for this reform.
“Honestly, until this week, I’ve always thought of it helping my patients that have breast cancer, especially the young ones that have children and have so many things to get done but feel so terrible as they go through chemotherapy,” said Senator Dunnavant, a doctor. “After this week, I won’t be able to forget Tamra Netzel, the patient and my constituent with multiple sclerosis that testified on behalf of this bill in committee. My niece also has MS and having the opportunity to help others in similar situations means a lot to me.”
The chief patron of the House bill is Delegate Benjamin L. Cline. Staunton’s Nikki Narduzzi, an advocate for medical marijuana legalization in Virginia, approached Cline about the bill.
“What we really needed was a House patron that could get the bill out of the Criminal Law Subcommittee and carry it across the finish line,” says Narduzzi. Cline held a position on the Joint Commission on Health Care and the Criminal Law Subcommittee.
“He voted in favor of our previous bills, had shown great compassion and respect for patients who shared their stories and was well-known for being respected by his Republican colleagues even though he was also known to speak up on positions that weren’t always viewed favorably by his own party members,” says Narduzzi. “He was the perfect advocate to have on our side.”
“CBD/THC-A oil has been proven to effectively and safely help patients address symptoms of intractable epilepsy and manage pain,” said Delegate Cline. “By expanding the ability to recommend CBD/THC-A oil, we are giving doctors the freedom to make a recommendation based on the most up to date research and data, just as they do for any other medication they prescribe.”
Jenn Michelle Pedini, executive director of Virginia NORML and a two-time cancer survivor herself, believes these bills will give countless suffering Virginians a chance to safely heal.