Providers in Virginia are excited about a proposal that would allow nursing homes to administer CBD and THC-A oil to certified residents. 

“We really believe that the legislation is moving toward positive aging for all Virginians,” Dana Parsons, vice president & legislative counsel for LeadingAge Virginia, told McKnight’s

Senate Bill 185, which would also apply to assisted living facilities and hospice programs, allows employees to administer the medications to residents who have been issued a valid, written certification for it. Current state law restricts the use of CBD and THC-A oil to Board of Pharmacy-registered patients.  

The legislation is now making its rounds through the state House after passing the Senate. Providers believe there’s a good change the legislation will be passed and signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

The legislation comes during a time when cannabis use continues to rise among older Americans. More than 30 states have also either legalized medical cannabis or CBD oil. 

“If the resident and [their] practitioner believes that this is a good alternative for them to use, then we believe that this law will support that. [This] could be an overall benefit to the resident,” Parsons said. 

The Virginia Health Care Association – Virginia Center for Assisted Living also expressed excitement for the legislation, adding that it worked with bill sponsor Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R) and its state agency partners on the bill. 

“Under Dunnavant’s leadership, Virginia is taking steps in the right direction to help nursing facilities and assisted living communities navigate the issues around resident’s use and possession of CBD or THC-A,” said April Payne, LNHA, the association’s vice president of quality improvement and director of VCAL. 

If the law is passed, the association encouraged providers to draft policies on the regulation and also include copies of resident certifications. 

“We will be working with our members to support them with this,” Parsons said. 

With marijuana being listed as a schedule I drug, Parsons said some providers have been concerned about the federal implications if the law is passed and implemented. Schedule I drugs are those that have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse,” as defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration. 

“For those certified communities, we will continue to work with them and seek guidance from [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] on how they could move forward with implementing the new law,” Parsons said. 

Parsons added she doesn’t believe there is much chance the regulation could be abused since residents need to have written certification and state approval before being given the medication. 

“There’s a lot of accountability in place. I don’t see that being a concern,” she said.