In the State of Virginia, it’s a crime to possess large amount of cannabis. Possessing one ounce or less is a civil violation. Additionally, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Senate Bill 1027 creating the state’s Limited CBD and THC-A Oil program. Under SB 1027, recommended patients may obtain products made from THC-A or cannabidiol (CBD) oil.
Patients must have a doctor’s recommendation to qualify for the program. These cannabis extracts will contain no more than 5% THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and at least 15% CBD.
RICHMOND — Gov. Ralph Northam has asked the General Assembly to speed up the legalization of marijuana in the state, making it lawful for an adult to possess up to one ounce on July 1, 2021, instead of waiting until early 2024.
Northam’s request is in the form of a proposed amendment to the legalization bill the General Assembly passed last month. The legislature had settled on the later date amid last-minute wrangling on the complex, 250-page bill. “Our Commonwealth is committed to legalizing marijuana in an equitable way,” Northam (D) said in a news release ahead of Wednesday’s deadline for filing the amendment. “Virginia will become the 15th state to legalize marijuana — and these changes will ensure we do it with a focus on public safety, public health, and social justice.”
His proposals include changes to several other aspects of the legislation. One would empower the Cannabis Control Authority — the new regulatory agency that will be created to oversee the marijuana industry — to suspend the licenses of businesses that don’t allow workers to organize, pay less than a prevailing wage or classify more than 10 percent of workers as independent contractors.
Gov. Northam considers speeding up the legalization of marijuana in Virginia
Northam is also proposing a quicker route for expunging marijuana-related incidents from criminal records, and allowing home cultivation of up to four plants per household as of July 1, 2021.
In addition, he is seeking budget amendments to set aside money this year for an advertising campaign on the safety risks of marijuana use and to begin training police to recognize driving under the influence of the drug.
The General Assembly will take up the proposals when it reconvenes April 7 for a one-day session to consider any vetoes or amendments Northam has proposed to this year’s legislation.
Prospects seem good for the legalization changes in both chambers. The House of Delegates had pushed for the later date for legalizing possession when passing the legislation, arguing that the state needed time to get a new commercial industry up and running. Northam had also supported waiting.
But House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) said last Friday that she and other House leaders would be on board with speeding up the date for legal possession.
Advocates argued that waiting to legalize possession after having approved a regulated industry would send a mixed message and still leave people vulnerable to arrest — particularly people of color, who statistics show are far more likely than White people to be prosecuted for marijuana in Virginia. The state decriminalized possession of small amounts last year, but police can still arrest violators on civil charges.
“We’re moving toward a more equitable and just law,” House Majority Leader Charniele L. Herring (D-Alexandria) said. “Moving the legalization date up for simple possession will stop us penalizing people, because it’s still . . . disproportionate arrests or citations given to Black and Brown people.”
Virginia’s governor says he supports legalizing marijuana
“It’s just logical,” said Sen. Adam P. Ebbin (D-Alexandria), who co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill, which passed that chamber with the earlier effective date. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it.”
Virginia would become the first former Confederate state to legalize marijuana. The regulated consumer industry would still not come online until 2024, and several aspects regarding reclassifying drug- and alcohol-related crimes must be voted on again next year by the General Assembly.Possessing Marijuana in Virginia
Possessing small amounts of cannabis in Virginia is decriminalized. The fines are as follows:
- Under 1 ounce = Civil violation: $25 fine
Concentrates & Hashish
Virginia state lawmakers place concentrates and hash that contain under 12% THC by weight under the same definition as cannabis. This includes Hashish oil. See “Possessing Marijuana in Virginia” for penalty details.
Qualifying patients can use Limited CBD and THC-A products, such as oils, patches, and tinctures. Each patient can possess a 90-day supply of oils at any given time.
Selling Marijuana in Virginia
It is a felony crime to traffic or sell cannabis in the State of Virginia. Related convictions are punishable as follows:
- Between ½ ounce to 5 pounds = Up to $2,500 fine and mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year to up to 10 years’ imprisonment
- Between 5 pounds to 100 kilograms = Up to $1,000 fine and mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to up to 30 years’ imprisonment
- Over 100 kilograms = Up to $100,000 fine and mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years to up to life in prison
- To a minor 3 or more years younger = Up to $100,000 fine and mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years to up to 50 years’ imprisonment
- Within 1,000 feet of school bus stop or school = Up to $100,000 fine and mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year to up to 5 years’ imprisonment
- Transporting over 5 pounds in the state with intent to distribute = Up to $1,000,000 fine and mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to up to 40 years’ imprisonment
- Maintaining fortified drug house = Mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year to up to 10 years’ imprisonment
Concentrates & Hashish
In Virginia, it is a felony to distribute or sell any amount of concentrates or hash. Related convictions are punishable as follows:
- To a minor at least 3 years younger or using a minor to distribute = $100,000 fine, plus a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years to up to 50 years’ imprisonment
- Manufacturing, possessing or distributing with intent to distribute, give or sell (first offense) = Up to $100,000 fine and/or 1 to 5 years’ imprisonment
- Manufacturing, possessing or distributing with intent to distribute, give or sell (subsequent offense) = Up to $100,000 fine and/or mandatory minimum sentence of 1 to 5 years’ imprisonment
- Selling drug paraphernalia is a crime in the State of Virginia. Such crimes are punishable as follows:
- Possess with intent to sell or selling = Misdemeanor: Up to $2,500 fine and up to 12 months’ imprisonment
- Sell to a minor over 3 years younger = Felony: Up to $2,500 fine and up to 12 months’ incarceration
- Advertising to sell = Misdemeanor: Up to $2,500 fine and up to 12 months’ imprisonment
- Distributing printed material that knowingly advertises to sell. = Misdemeanor: Up to $2,500 fine and up to 12 months’ imprisonment
Growing and Manufacturing Marijuana in Virginia
Virginia law states that anyone who possesses cannabis with the intent to manufacture or manufactures cannabis is guilty of a felony crime. It’s punishable by a fine up to $10,000. There’s also a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to up to 30 years’ imprisonment.
Growing any form of cannabis is illegal in this state. Virginia has legalized industrial hemp program for plants with less than .3 percent THC. This is limited to research organizations until federal laws have changed.
Concentrates & Hashish
No one may distribute, manufacture, or possess with the intent to give, sell or manufacture hash oil in Virginia. Such felony crimes are punishable as follows:
- First offense = Up to $500,000 fine and between 5 to 40 years’ imprisonment
- Second offense = Mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to up to life in prison
- Subsequent offense = Mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years to up to life in prison
Virginia Hemp Law
In 2015, Virginia passed a Hemp Law under Senate Bill 955. This allows the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to regulate the cultivation of industrial hemp. Virginia defines hemp as a variety of cannabis containing no more than 1% THC.
Patients obtain CBD and THC-A oil from pharmaceutical processors.
No person may legally cultivate or grow medical cannabis in Virginia.
Using Marijuana in Virginia
Because of SB 1027, qualifying patients can obtain, possess, and use limited CBD and THC-A oils. These extracts contain no more than 5% THC and no less than 15% CBD.
To participate in Virginia’s medical marijuana-like program, patients must obtain authorization from a physician. Then, they must apply for the program by enrolling through the state’s Department of Health.
Breaking the Marijuana Laws in Virginia
Conditional release may be allowed for first-time offenders found in possession of under a ½ ounce of cannabis in Virginia. This allows them to receive probation, as opposed to doing time in jail. However, these offenders must agree to enroll in a drug treatment program and pay to take a series of drug tests. Community service may also be required.
Mandatory Minimum Sentence
If convicted of a crime that carries a mandatory minimum sentence, the presiding judge cannot issue a sentence less than the minimum amount. No probation will be granted until at least this amount of time has been fully served.