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Marijuana laws in Virginia have undergone significant changes recently, leading to confusion and questions. In this blog, we'll tackle five frequently asked questions about Virginia's marijuana laws and what steps you should take if you find yourself arrested for a marijuana-related offense. 

Is Marijuana Legal in Virginia? 

Yes, as of July 1, 2021, marijuana has been legalized in Virginia for adults aged 21 and over. Adults can possess up to one ounce of marijuana for personal use. However, public consumption of marijuana remains prohibited, and there are specific restrictions regarding possession on school grounds and certain federal properties. Using marijuana in a moving vehicle or while driving also remains illegal.  

Is Marijuana Cultivation Legal in Virginia? 

Yes, but with restrictions. Under the new law, adults aged 21 and over are permitted to cultivate up to four marijuana plants per household for personal use. The plants must be labeled with identification information and kept out of public view, and steps must be taken to prevent unauthorized access by minors. 

Can I Still Be Charged with Possession of Marijuana? 

While the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana is legal for individuals 21 and older, possession of more than one ounce can lead to charges. Possessing between one (1) ounce and (1) one pound of marijuana is considered a civil penalty punishable by a fine. Possession of more than one pound is a felony, subject to more severe penalties. 

What are the Penalties of a Conviction? 

The penalties for marijuana-related offenses vary depending on the quantity possessed and the nature of the offense. Civil penalties for minor offenses can include fines, while felony criminal charges, such as possession of large quantities or distribution, have much more significant fines and the potential of imprisonment. 

What Happens if You are Under 21 and Arrested for Possession of Marijuana? 

Under § 4.1-1105.1, individuals younger than 21 who consume or possess marijuana or marijuana products face legal consequences and civil penalties. For those 18 and older, violation of this statute results in a civil penalty of no more than $25 and an order to enter a substance abuse treatment or education program. Those under 18 years old face similar penalties but are legally treated as juvenile delinquents as opposed to adults. 

What to Do If Arrested for a Marijuana-Related Offense in Virginia 

Being arrested for a marijuana-related offense can be a stressful and confusing experience. Understanding your rights and the steps you can take to protect yourself legally is of the utmost importance. 

The following are steps you can take if you are arrested on a marijuana-related offense: 

  • Remain calm: When interacting with law enforcement, keep calm and respectful. Avoid providing information beyond what is legally required, such as your name and address. 
  • Do not consent to a search: You have the right to refuse consent to search your person or property. If the officer has a warrant or there is a legally valid reason for them to perform a search, such as a safety pat down search when there is legitimate cause to believe someone may be armed and/or dangerous, the police will search you or your property anyway, but your consent is not necessary under those circumstances.  
  • Consult with a lawyer: If you are detained or arrested, ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not discuss your case or the circumstances of your arrest without legal representation present. 
  • Follow court orders: If you are charged and the court orders you to enter a treatment or education program, it’s vital to comply with these conditions fully. 

Marijuana laws in Virginia continue to evolve, and understanding these changes is essential for lawful conduct concerning cannabis. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a marijuana-related offense, seeking legal counsel is a critical step.  

I, Andrew J. Cornick, Attorney at Law, understand what is at stake in these cases, and I keep a close eye on the changing legal landscape around state and federal marijuana laws. Contact me online to schedule a consultation to discuss your case and how I may be able to help.