Where can budding pot growers purchase seeds now that Governor Ralph Northam has given the green light? Legally, nowhere.
Green-thumbed Virginians, 21 and older, are legally allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per household for personal use, however, Gov. Northam’s legislation legalizing the personal cultivation of marijuana fails to include a pathway to obtain seeds.
On July 3, RVA Cannabis Company [RVAC] celebrated Independence Day by hosting an event to welcome back the reform of marijuana. A limited amount of tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] seeds was presented to attendees.
“A friend recommended that I attend today,” said Felicia Moore of Hopewell. “I suffer from fibromyalgia and PTSD on top of everyday stress. So, I decided to come out and see what products they have that would benefit me. They gave me stress and pain relief gummy samples and another one that is a sleep aid.”
“The event was private as stated in law in order to hand out THC seeds,” said RVAC owner Milton Ares. “We had a limited amount of premium seeds to hand out for free.”
Located in the heart of Chester, RVAC is owned by Ares, his wife Jennifer, and their nephew CJ Thomas. They had a pandemic-delayed opening in September last year.
According to Jennifer Ares, they initially planned to hand out 100 premium feminized seeds but ended up handing out 250 in total.
RVAC purchased seeds in hopes to sell them, but as the law currently states, they were unable to do so.
What brand of seeds did attendees receive?
“We handed out one premium auto-flower, feminized seed per adults 21 and older,” said Jennifer Ares. “Some of those strains were Auto Bubblegum, Auto Jack Herer, Auto Northern Lights, and Auto Gelato 33.”
“Sticking to our ‘safe access’ motto, we wanted to help with getting some seeds out to our loyal customers legally,” said Ares. “We plan to do more of these in the near future to help our community have access to good quality genetics.”
How were seeds presented?
“Virginia requires each plant to be tagged with ‘name’ and ‘ID number,’ so we had plant tags printed and taped a seed to each one,” said Ares. “We also added ‘name of strain’ and ‘date planted’ which will be helpful when tracking growth.”
RVAC sells the plant tags in packs of four which include a scannable QR code that provides general grow guide information.
Cannabis growing tips
“Make sure you have a proper environment that is out of public view, and do not overwater,” shared Ares. “Also do not give over-intense lighting in a young stage, don’t forget to write down your planting date, and be sure to use good-draining nutrient-rich soil.”
“We have growing classes that will begin in a few weeks in order to help people get comfortable with growing their own cannabis,” added Thomas.
“We aren’t legally allowed to grow THC plants at the moment on-premise, but we had two different strains of CBD [cannabidiol] we carry in-house on display,” said Ares. “Just wanted to show not only a tent set up but also the similarities that both CBD and THC share such as leaves and smell.
“I sell worm poop that can be used in cannabis growing,” shared Moose Hill Worm Farm owner Bill Clark of Gloucester while checking out the grow tent.
As explained by Ares, CBD and THC are both cannabinoids out of hundreds that interact with receptors involved in a variety of functions like anxiety, appetite, depression, and pain sensation.
When I asked attendee Donovan Higginbotham of Chesterfield what he thinks of the law passed July 1, he thinks it will be a good thing for Virginia.
“It will open up a lot of doors. They treaded on marijuana while other states were legalizing it,” said Higginbotham. “It’s the best thing to happen to Virginia in a long time.”
Thomas stated, “Since July 1, our business has certainly picked up. We definitely have more calls and walk-ins with a lot of questions on this new exciting law.”
“Overall, we are witnessing a new flow of curious, inquisitive people which is awesome because we want to get rid of that stigma that cannabis has had in past,” added Ares.
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Top three questions
At this time, Virginia law does not allow for recreational sales, so THC products are not available at RVAC.
Medical cards are not needed to shop, since RVAC is a cannabis dispensary that carries cannabis products that are under a .3% THC.
“We can guide our customers to someone who can answer any questions they have about the process and see if they qualify for a medical card,” said Jennifer Ares.
No, RVAC does not sell Delta 8 or Delta 10 products.
“There is a synthetic process to create this product with no state regulations, so who’s insuring its safety? It’s for those reasons we will not carry them in our store,” explained Ares. “For example, you can not grow a high content Delta-8 cannabis plant. They take CBD flower and spray the manufactured Delta 8 on it.”
Delta 8 and Delta 10
“Delta 8 and Delta 10 are indeed part of the plant but in very small amounts, none of which is potent enough to intoxicate you,” explained Ares. “They do this by extracting CBD then doing a chemical reaction to it. Is it safe? Who knows.
“Is it regulated? Nope, but, both CBD and THC Delta 9 are regulated. This is to ensure the safety of its consumers,” said Ares. “Someone found a loophole in the law to intoxicate with no regulation. I think we are up to 15 states who have banned it. Our stance is simple, prove it’s safe and regulate it. But, honestly, with the legalization of Delta 9, why are we turning to synthetics?”
What products and/or services can RVAC now offer as of July 1 that they could not legally offer previously?
According to Jennifer Ares, the new law has not changed retailing of THC variety cannabis. Consumers are still not able to purchase or sell seeds, plants, or any finished product of it.
“In the coming months, the Cannabis Control Authority [CCA] will set up a structured system for cannabis in Virginia that will include how THC cannabis will be sold and who will be able to sell it,” said Ares. “Until that is established, the law has removed punishment for possession. You may possess up to an ounce of your herb outside of the home, and the law allows for home cultivation of four plants total per house.
“This initial law will give people safe access to it through growing instead of relying on the illicit market. You must be at least 21,” added Ares. “Currently, the only sales would be at one of the four medical dispensaries that you will still need a medical card to enter and purchase legally.”
“We are now educating our customers about all the benefits of mixing their personal THC with our cannabis varieties to help prevent over intoxication of THC or if people would like to just reduce their THC tolerance level without needing to take a complete break from it,” said Jennifer Ares.
While looking into RVAC’s in-store transparency kitchen, I noticed joints being prerolled.
“Yes, we have fresh-rolled joints. The test tube-looking item is actually called a Knockbox. Its purpose is to ‘knock-out’ 100 prerolls at a time,” said Ares. “We grind up our CBD flower and make our CannaRolls and sell them in 3-pack or 7-pack options.
“When this process is done it makes for a very fragrant store! Whether you call CBD hemp, cannabis, or low gas, it has the same beneficial terpenes as THC cannabis does,” explained Ares. “People are genuinely surprised to see that the plants look and smell alike. Different strains have their own terpene profile ultimately making them either a Sativa, Indica, or Hybrid.”
“We believe that it’s comforting to see the process of where it’s done,” said Jennifer Ares.
“Continue to provide safe access to high-quality cannabis products,” shared Thomas. “We are currently doing research and development with new varieties of cannabis that are under 0.3% THC in order to target specific therapeutic needs.”
“Our major goal is to become a dispensary that can offer THC cannabis as well,” added Jennifer Ares. “We would love to represent that compound in our store.”
Vendors present at the “Welcome Back” event included Kobi’s Soul Food and Catering of Petersburg, Pure Shenandoah of Charlottesville, Moose Hill Worm Farm of Williamsburg, Leah’s Snow Shack of Chester, ECC Test Lab of Ashland, RC Health & Fitness of Chester, Forever One representative Sylvia Bland of Chester, and DJ Lee Bueller of Richmond.
Currently located in Richmond and Fredericksburg, Happy Trees Agricultural Supply is preparing to open its doors in Petersburg on August 1. The store focuses on selling agricultural supplies home growers will need in order to cultivate and harvest cannabis.
RVAC is located at 4500 West Hundred Road in Chester. Visit Facebook at @RVACanCo, Instagram @rvacannabiscompany, rvacannabiscompany.com, or email email@example.com for more information.
Visit cannabis.virginia.gov to find answers to frequently asked questions about legalization in Virginia.
– Kristi K. Higgins aka The Social Butterfly columnist is the trending topics and food Q&A reporter at The Progress-Index. Have a news tip on local trends or businesses? Contact Kristi (she, her) at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow @KHiggins_PI on Twitter, and subscribe to us at progress-index.com.