Cannabis in Virginia
Cannabis in Virginia is illegal for all purposes, and possession of even small amounts is a criminal misdemeanor, but per 2015 law possession of CBD oil or THC-A oil entails an affirmative defense for patients who have a doctor's recommendation for those substances to treat severe epilepsy. Legislation passed in 2019 allows doses to contain up to 10 mg of THC.
In September 2018, the Virginia State Board of Pharmacy approved the applications for five companies to open medical cannabis dispensaries across the Commonwealth. As of November 2019, builders were getting closer to opening the Richmond district's medical cannabis farm and dispensary on Decatur Street.
As of April 2019, only 251 of the 35,404 doctors licensed to practice in Virginia had registered with the state to write medical cannabis recommendations.
A first offense is an unclassified Misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine (or both), and loss of driving privileges. However with a change in the law as of July 1, 2017, the loss of driving privileges is now optional for adults (depending upon the judge's discretion) while still mandatory for juveniles. A subsequent offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of 12 months in confinement and a $2,500 fine (or both), plus loss of driving privileges. A first-offense will qualify for a deferred disposition resulting in dismissal. This option requires a drug assessment, classes, community service, and loss of driving privileges for six months. The first-offender program is controversial, because it can affect immigration status and does not allow the defendant to qualify for expungement, and as a result, remains on the individual's record for life.
Virginia General Assembly tightened the laws on cannabis and added a provision allowing its use and distribution for cancer and glaucoma. There is currently a provision in the law, § 18.2-251, which allows a case to be dismissed if the offender goes through probation and treatment. In the 1990s, Virginia had some of the lightest penalties for cultivation in the United States; cultivation of any amount for personal use counted as simple possession (otherwise it carried felony penalties of up to 35 years imprisonment). Possession is currently an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first-time offense. A second offense is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $2500 fine.
1979 medical regulation
In 1979, Virginia passed legislation allowing doctors to recommend cannabis for glaucoma or the side effects of chemotherapy. In 1997, repeal of the medical cannabis law seemed certain, but this did not actually happen. For many years, though, the medical cannabis law was non-functioning because prescriptions were disallowed by federal law, given cannabis's status under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I controlled substance with no accepted medical use.
2015 failed attempt to decriminalize
2015 affirmative defense law for CBD and THC-A oils
In March 2015, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed House Bill 1445 and Senate Bill 1235, creating affirmative defense against a possession charge that cannabidiol oil (also known as CBD) and THC-A oil were for treatment of epilepsy. The bill had passed Virginia's Senate with a vote of 37–1 in February.
2020 reform push
In 2019, Virginia attorney-general Mark Herring called for cannabis to be eventually legalized. State senator Stephen Heretick announced that he would be putting in decriminalization legislation in the 2020 session.
Following the 2019 Virginia elections, in which Democrats won control of both houses of the General Assembly, Herring scheduled a Cannabis Summit for early December to address the issues of decriminalization of marijuana, social equity, regulating CBD and hemp products, and pathways towards legalization through legislative efforts.
Bills pending in the General Assembly as of January 2020 included Lee J. Carter's HB 87 ("Marijuana; legalization of simple possession, penalties"); Heretick's HB 265 ("Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession, civil penalty") and HB 269 ("Marijuana; legalization of simple marijuana possession, penalty"); Kaye Kory's HB 481 ("Marijuana; decriminalization of simple marijuana possession, penalty"; and Adam Ebbin's SB 2 ("Marijuana; decriminalization of simple possession, civil penalty").
- "Virginia lawmakers allow medical marijuana to be dispensed in lollipops and lozenges".
Lawmakers also better defined dosages to reflect that a dose must contain at least 5 milligrams of CBD or THCA and may contain up to 10 milligrams of THC.
- Drive On: New Virginia law changes punishment for marijuana possession, Drive On: New Virginia law changes punishment for marijuana possession
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- Panel Backs Marijuana, Heroin Ban, Tyler Whitley, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 27 Jan 1998.
- § 18.2-251, Code of Virginia.
- § 18.2-250.1. Possession of marijuana unlawful, Code of Virginia.
- § 18.2-11. Punishment for conviction of misdemeanor, Code of Virginia.
- James A. Inciardi; Lana D. Harrison (11 October 1999). Harm Reduction: National and International Perspectives. SAGE. pp. 84–. ISBN 978-0-7619-0688-9.
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- Vozzella, Laura (2012-12-14). "Va. House allows marijuana oils for epilepsy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2015-08-26.
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