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Analyzing Cannabis Drug Crimes Under Virginia Law


Even though Virginia legalized cannabis for recreational possession and use in 2021, it is still possible to face charges for cannabis drug crimes. For example, there is a penalty for exceeding the legal limits for possession and use under Virginia law. Furthermore, the distribution of cannabis and possession of cannabis with intent to distribute remain criminal offenses in Virginia.

What are the Virginia Laws Concerning Possession of Cannabis?

The Virginia laws concerning possession of cannabis appear under Code of Virginia Section 4.1-1100. This section authorizes adults over 21 to possess and use cannabis for recreational purposes. Though the following limits apply to the lawful possession of cannabis:

  • One ounce of cannabis; or
  • An equivalent amount of cannabis products.

How Does Virginia Penalize Possession of Cannabis?

Section 4.1-1100 also furnishes the Virginia penalties for unlawful possession of cannabis. It is a civil violation with a maximum punishment of a $25 fine for any person to possess:

  • On their person, more than one ounce of cannabis or an equivalent amount of cannabis product; or
  • More than one ounce of cannabis in any public place or an equivalent amount of cannabis product.

However, if a violation of Section 4.1-1100 involves more than one pound of cannabis or an equivalent amount of cannabis product, it is a felony crime. The maximum punishment involves 10 years in prison and $250,000 in criminal fines in these cases.

What are the Virginia Laws Against Distribution of Cannabis?

The Virginia laws against the distribution of cannabis appear under Code of Virginia Section 18.2-248.1. Unless otherwise authorized under the Drug Control Act, this section makes it unlawful to distribute, sell, or give cannabis. This section also makes it illegal to possess cannabis with an intent to distribute, sell, or give.

How Does Virginia Penalize Distribution of Cannabis?

Section 18.2-248.1 also details the Virginia penalties for the distribution of cannabis. Any person who violates this section with respect to:

  • One ounce or less — Will likely face Class 1 misdemeanor charges, punishable by a maximum of 12 months in county jail and $2,500 in criminal fines;
  • More than one ounce but less than five pounds — Will likely face Class 5 felony charges, punishable by one to 10 years in prison and $2,500 in criminal fines; or
  • More than five pounds — Will likely face felony charges, punishable by five to 30 years in prison and criminal fines.

That being said, there is an enhanced punishment for repeat offenders. If a person violates Section 18.2-248.1 for a third time or more, it is a felony with a punishment of five years to life in prison and up to $500,000 in criminal fines.

Do You Need Legal Help?

The Leesburg drug crime lawyers at Simms Showers LLP are prepared to help you fight your charges. Reach out to us today for a consultation.

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