Is marijuana legal in Virginia?
Current legality status
Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.
Medical marijuana is legal in Virginia, but it is a restrictive program with products made from CBD and THC oils and no flower or smokeable products. Recreational use is illegal and not accessible.
Marijuana in smaller amounts has been decriminalized in Virginia, so possession of up to 1 oz does not warrant a criminal charge as of July 1, 2020, and authorized medical patients are protected, not just given affirmative defense.
Starting in late 2020, pharmaceutical processors are scheduled to open medical dispensaries to sell patients CBD and limited THC oil and their byproducts, including lozenges, capsules, and patches.
The penalties for marijuana in Virginia are still harsh, regardless of recent legislation. Personal possession of more than half an oz and up to 5 lbs. of marijuana flower can result in up to 10 years in jail and a $2,500 fine.
More than 5 lbs. can be punishable up to 30 years in jail. Any form of manufacturing, selling, distributing or gifting is punishable by up to 40 years in prison and $500,00 in fines. Penalties increase with subsequent offenses.
Despite a peak of almost 29,000 cannabis arrests in 2018, arrests were down to approximately 26,500 in 2019.
Virginia medical marijuana laws
2020 has been a good year for cannabis and marijuana legislation in Virginia, although it remains conservative, and good ol’ fashioned bud is still illegal.
Gov. Ralph Northam signed SB 726 in 2018 to legalize the use, recommendation, and production of CBD and THCA oils. In 2019, SB 1557 expanded on this to include products derived from those oils, like lollipops, capsules, sprays, and topicals.
In May 2020, Northam signed SB 2 / HB 972 to decriminalize possession of up to 1 oz, which took effect July 1. The bill also creates a workgroup between many state institutions to study potential impacts of personal use and legalization.
Efforts to promote legalization were killed in the General Assembly in 2020 and will have to wait until 2021. Other bills were incorporated into SB 2/HB 972 to expunge records of people with low-level offenses. Two of five approved medical dispensaries are set to open in the fall 2020, pandemic permitting.
Many important lawmakers in Virginia are Democrats and there is now a Democratic majority in its House of Delegates, which has resulted in numerous legislation changes, cannabis included. The state’s August 2020 session has multiple planned actions to address equity, racial discrimination, and social justice. Several of Virginia’s senators and house representatives are up for re-election. Virginia residents can register to vote here.
Support has been growing in Virginia and continues with the August 2020 session for the General Assembly. A survey from Christopher Newport University in 2019 indicated that 83% of Virginia voters support decriminalization.
Virginia qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
Cannabis oil and derived products will be legally available for registered medical marijuana patients to purchase and possess starting in 2020. As of 2018, any diagnosed and debilitating condition may qualify. These include:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),
- Cachexia and wasting syndrome,
- Crohn’s Disease
- Chronic Pain
- Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
- Hepatitis C
- Huntington’s Disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Tourette Syndrome
How to get a medical marijuana card in Virginia
Virginia doesn’t make it easy to procure medicine.
- First you’ll need to register an account on the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) Initial Applications site. This includes your social security number. The fee is $50.
- Once registered, select “Registered Patient for Cannabis Oil” from the license type to begin the application process.
- The application requires ID that shows proof of age, residency, and a recommendation from a registered practitioner on the Board of Pharmacy.
- This can take up to two weeks to process. Recommendations must be renewed annually.
Does Virginia accept out-of-state medical cards?
Definitely not, they barely accept their own.
When does my Virginia medical marijuana card expire?
Medical marijuana cards in Virginia must be renewed annually for registered patients to maintain access to cannabis oil.
Got your medical card? Find a dispensary in Virginia
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Virginia marijuana growing laws
Only licensed pharmaceutical processors can grow cannabis in Virginia, of which there are five. Home cultivation is prohibited even for medical patients.
Virginia public consumption laws
Consumption of flower is prohibited everywhere, even in the home, and flower is not legally available even to medical patients. Medical patients can consume their oils at home.
Virginia cannabis DUI laws
Virginia defines driving while intoxicated or under the influence as “If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 percent or higher. You may be considered under the influence with a lower BAC if your ability to operate a motor vehicle, boat or water craft is impaired.”
A medical patient registration with the medical marijuana program does not protect an individual from driving while intoxicated.
Virginia, like other states, has implied consent laws when it comes to breathalyzers or chemical tests to determine blood-alcohol concentration. Refusing a breathalyzer will result in a 1-year license suspension. Driving while intoxicated by a drug, cannabis included, results in the same penalties as alcohol.
- First offense: Class 1 misdemeanor, $250 fine, and up to 10 days in jail if BAC level is above 0.15%, driver’s license revocation for one year.
- Second offense within 5 years: Mandatory minimum 20 days in jail up to one year, $500 fine, driver’s license revocation for three years.
- Third offense within 10 years: Class 6 felony, 90-day minimum in jail, indefinite license revocation, and a minimum $1,000 fine.
Virginia cannabis testing regulations
Currently, there are no cannabis products for sale in Virginia, so the testing regulations are unclear, although the limited 10mg dose of THC in ingestible products means some form of testing must occur.
Legislation over the last two years has clarified industry supply chains and infrastructure to create those regulations.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in Virginia
Can medical patients grow in Virginia?
No. Only licensed pharmaceutical processors can grow cannabis in Virginia.
Is Virginia a medical state?
Yes, but it had no dispensaries and offered no products prior to 2020. In fall 2020, registered patients will be able to buy oils, capsules, patches, and lozenges at two of the state’s five medical dispensaries.
Can you get a medical card with a felony in Virginia?
Some states allow felons to get medical marijuana cards, some don’t. Since Virginia does not have a regulated system for medical marijuana, it is up to the medical professional to make the recommendation.
Can you get a medical card for anxiety in Virginia?
Yes, anxiety is a qualifying condition in Virginia.
Learn more about marijuana legalization in Virginia
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Post last updated Sept. 6, 2020