As of July 1, 2020, simple possession (without the intent to distribute) of an ounce or less of marijuana in Virginia is now only punishable by a maximum civil fine of $25 and no longer reflected on a person’s criminal record. For multiple violations, there will be no escalating penalties.
Previously, possession of half an ounce or less was a misdemeanor offense that carries a jail term of up to 30 days and a fine not exceeding $500. A second conviction was punishable by a maximum jail sentence of one year and a fine no more than $2,500, while possession of concentrates like hash is a felony offense.
In addition, the new law seals past criminal records and employers, educational institutions, and government entities will no longer be able to ask a potential candidate to disclose any past simple marijuana charges. Although the police will no longer arrest people for simple possession, officers can still search a person’s vehicle and possessions if they smell the odor of cannabis.
Legislation is currently being considered to change marijuana possession to a secondary offense, meaning that police would be prohibited from stopping, searching, and citing any person solely based on the odor of marijuana. This is not yet the law, but statistical data showed historically that marijuana enforcement in Virginia disproportionately affected Virginians along racial lines and the General Assembly is considering ways to correct this imbalance.
Whether you have been recently charged with simple marijuana possession or have a loved one currently dealing with pending charges, Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law provides experienced and responsive legal services to residents in Fredericksburg and the surrounding area. Contact us today at (540) 818-3859 and request a free consultation to learn how we can help you.