Virginia has had a successful journey toward marijuana legalization.
The state legalized cannabis for medicinal use in 2017, and in 2020, it decriminalized simple possession of the drug.
As of Apr. 21, 2021, a bill was signed into law that legalized the use of marijuana recreationally for adults. Still, there is a lot you need to know about both forms of marijuana legalization in Virginia.
Virginia Medical Cannabis Landscape
Medical cannabis has been available to patients in Virginia since 2017, with the qualifying health condition being intractable epilepsy.
By 2018, Bill HB 1251 expanded the requirements to include any medical condition a registered practitioner believes can benefit from marijuana.
If you’re an approved patient, you’re allowed marijuana products of up to 10 mg per dose with no more than a 90-day supply.
How to Become a Medical Marijuana Patient
It’s easier to become a medical marijuana patient in Virginia compared to many other states. You need a written certification, which serves as the medical marijuana card for Virginia.
The certification is provided by a qualified practitioner licensed by the Board of Medicine who can be:
- A doctor of medicine or osteopathy
- A physician assistant
- A nurse practitioner also licensed by the Board of Nursing
With the written certification, you can access medical cannabis from the various dispensing locations across the state set up by approved pharmaceutical processors.
More on the Certifications
The state has outlined requirements practitioners need to be eligible to issue marijuana certifications, which include sufficient education and training.
Once you receive your written certification, you may only have to present it once to a medical marijuana dispensing outlet, provided they remain with an electronic copy.
Keep in mind that marijuana certifications expire after a year, whereby you would need to be re-certified by a qualified practitioner.
What Are the Guidelines for Minors?
The law allows minors to benefit from medical cannabis if their health condition qualifies and they have obtained written certifications from practitioners.
However, patients under the age of 21 cannot purchase marijuana.
The parents and legal guardians of underage patients will need to register as designated caregivers and handle marijuana on behalf of their patients.
Virginia Recreational Cannabis Landscape
With the legalization of recreational marijuana in Virginia, adult residents 21 and older can now possess up to an ounce of the drug. Any more than that but less than a pound attracts a $25 civil penalty.
If you get caught with more than a pound of weed, you face a felony charge leading to a maximum of 10 years in jail and up to $250,000 in fines.
Where to Buy Recreational Weed in Virginia
Currently, the state of Virginia has not established a recreational marijuana market. There are no retail outlets or dispensaries for adult-use weed.
According to projections, the retail market will be up and running by Jan. 1, 2024. When that happens, residents will be able to purchase marijuana from licensed stores across the state.
Until then, adults 21 and older can cultivate up to four cannabis plants per residence. Keep in mind that the guidelines don’t say per individual but per household.
The provision also specifies that the plants should be kept out of reach of minors, and if you must share your stash, do it privately and give another adult only up to an ounce.
What about Consumption Areas?
Possession of marijuana is not restricted, even in public, except on public school grounds where it attracts a class 2 misdemeanor charge. However, where you can consume marijuana is restricted.
Virginia’s marijuana law prohibits consuming or smoking marijuana in public. That also applies to moving vehicles. Whether you’re the driver or a passenger, you’re not allowed to smoke or consume any cannabis product. Violations attract a Class 4 misdemeanor charge.
You can only legally consume cannabis products in private. That means at home, pretty much.
What Are the Guidelines for Minors?
The law is strict regarding marijuana possession by anyone below 21 years old.
If caught, you face a $25 penalty and mandatory entry into an education program or substance abuse treatment.
Virginia is one of the states with a well-established medical cannabis industry. The adult-use sector still requires a lot of work. Nonetheless, it’s still legal to possess and consume weed recreationally.
Hopefully, this post will help you navigate the issues that come with marijuana legalization in Virginia.