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Understanding and Navigating Marijuana Laws in Virginia

Some states, such as Colorado, have legalized the use of marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes. In other states, the possession of marijuana for any use is illegal. Virginia is such a state. However, laws are changing. Find out the laws concerning marijuana and how they can impact you.

Possession Laws in Virginia

Marijuana laws originate in the federal system, which considers all use of marijuana and its derivatives illegal. Indeed, federal laws specifically prohibit the possession of marijuana for any purposes. However, states have decided on their own whether they want to legalize marijuana use for certain purposes.
Many states start by legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, typically to treat ailments such as glaucoma, anxiety, and nausea from undergoing chemotherapy. These medicinal usage laws are sometimes a gateway for legalizing marijuana for all purposes.
Virginia adheres to the federal law concerning recreational usage. Therefore, possession of any amount of marijuana is illegal and can carry fines, probation, and even jail time. These laws also apply to the possession and consumption of cannabis-infused products, such as edibles.

Marijuana Penalties in Virginia

As you can imagine, the penalties related to marijuana depend on the seriousness of the crime. With misdemeanors, the judge may substitute probation for incarceration, especially for first-time offenses.
The courts consider possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana or its paraphernalia a misdemeanor. Fines range from $500 to $2,500 and up to one year of incarceration, depending on how often you've been charged.
According to the federal government, paraphernalia includes any equipment specifically designed to introduce a controlled substance into the body, such as a water pipe. It also includes equipment that's been specifically designed to plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, and manufacture marijuana, such as specific grow lights or nutrient solutions.
A caveat to the paraphernalia law is being able to convince the courts you use the water pipe or other equipment strictly for tobacco usage, which is not so heavily restricted. However, any trace of cannabis residue renders this defense null and void. Likewise, intent to sell paraphernalia to a minor at least three years younger is a felony.
If you're in possession of a one-half ounce or more of cannabis, the law puts you into the sale/manufacture/trafficking category, which is felony territory. The penalties in this category are much stricter, with a minimum fine of $1,000 and one year of incarceration. Being in possession of five or more pounds of marijuana can lead to a minimum of five years of incarceration.
As with paraphernalia, the charges become steeper if minors are involved. Being within 1,000 feet of a school or bus stop with any amount of cannabis results in at least one year of incarceration and up to $100,000 in fines. Intending to sell to a minor at least three years younger results in at least two years of incarceration.

Cannabis Oil in Virginia

One of the laws that's currently undergoing changes in Virginia relates to cannabidiol oil and THC-A oil. A bill known as HB1251 was signed into law protecting those who use the oils for medicinal purposes. The SB726 bill, which allows doctors to recommend the uses of either oil for medicinal purposes, also passed into law.
Both cannabidiol and THC-A oils are non-psychoactive extracts of cannabis, meaning they don't alter your perceptions or mental processes. The oils have been shown to alleviate pain and reduce nausea. They can even be used for the treatment of bipolar disorder, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson's disease.
Neither of these bills pertains to marijuana itself - just the two oils.
So while using medicinal cannabis oils has recently been approved, any possession or use of marijuana to get high is prohibited in Virginia. Breaking the law can result in fines, probation, and even jail time. If you need help navigating the legalities of marijuana in Virginia, contact Myers Law, P.C.