Hampton startup hoping to open medical marijuana dispensary

HAMPTON, Va. - A Hampton-based startup company is hoping to open a medical marijuana dispensary to bring capsules, creams oils and more to patients and jobs to the community. The total investment would be $8 million and could create up to 300 jobs.

Rx Native Pharmaceuticals is a Hampton-based company, and CEO Chantra Stevenson said they are hoping to get the approval to be the dispensary in District 5, which stretches beyond Williamsburg all the way to Virginia Beach. Rx Native has leased a 30,000-sq. ft. space on Nasa Drive, which was formerly used as a Homeland Security Research Facility and is near NASA Langley Research Center.

Members of the Hampton City Council mentioned the city's central location for the district and how it would benefit citizens in the area in a June 13 meeting, and that's something Stevenson believes is an advantage.

"No matter where you are, within District 5, it’s equal distance time and travel," said Stevenson.

The Board of Pharmacy currently has 51 applicants hoping to become medical marijuana dispensaries across the state. The board is hoping to make decisions on which applicants will be approved in the fall since they got more applicants than originally expected. A meeting originally scheduled for July 31 to discuss dispensaries was canceled and is being rescheduled. Stevenson said she believes there are about 15 vying for the District 5 spot.

A medical marijuana dispensary is a facility where marijuana plants are grown to produce cannabidiol or THC-A oil. Stevenson hopes to grow more than 5,000 marijuana plants in a greenhouse, have a laboratory and retail store-front.

"You’d walk in, you’d see tellers windows, you check in. You’d have a pharmacist or tech work with you to fill your prescription," said Stevenson.

She added Virginia laws require dispensaries to be in complete control of the product from start to finish, or "seed to sale."

"Virginia integrated it fully, so one person is responsible for all aspects of the supply chain. That allows regulation, control, accountability -  everything you need in this industry," said Stevenson.

Even though Stevenson is one of 15 companies looking to get approval to be the dispensary for the district, she is hopeful Rx Native will get the spot. Stevenson said she wants to help others the way medical marijuana has helped her when she was battling breast cancer.

"To be able to live it firsthand, experience it firsthand and I did a complete 180. I was one of the people who were against it, and you're just getting high; it's one excuse. But when you start living it and needing it, it's a different story," said Stevenson.