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Virginia Drug Laws

Virginia is known for having harsh drug laws. In Virginia, as in many other states, drugs are divided into “schedules,” with the charges and penalties based on which schedule the drugs are in. This article gives a brief overview of Virginia’s drug laws including what schedule each drug is in, and what crimes you can be charged with.


Drugs are divided into schedules based on how addictive they are and how medically useful they are. Schedule I contains the most addictive drugs and the severity goes down from there. Virginia’s classifications are the same as the federal government’s drug schedules.

  • Schedule I – Heroin, ecstasy (MDMA), LSD, GHB. Marijuana is also a schedule I drug, but has a different scheme for penalties and crimes.
  • Schedule II – Methamphetamine and other stimulants. Morphine, PCP, cocaine, methadone, Ritalin.
  • Schedule III – Anabolic steroids, Codeine, Hydrocodone, ketamine, some barbiturates and other depressants.
  • Schedule IV – Many prescription drugs, including tranquilizers like Valium, Xanax, and Rohypnol.
  • Schedule V – Cough medicines with codeine in them.
  • Schedule VI– Drugs that are legal for one purpose, but may not be legal for people of all ages to possess. This includes inhalants like amyl nitrate and nitrous oxide.


There are many different crimes involving drugs, the three most common are: possession, intent to sell or distribute, and manufacture. A brief definition of these crimes and violations are below.

  • Possession – Possession does not mean just holding a drug in your hand or on your person. Possession includes having a controlled substance anywhere that a person has “within (his or her) control.” For example, if you are driving a car and have an illegal substance in your glove compartment, you could be charged with possession. What is “within your control” may be very fact specific.
  • Selling or Distributing (or Intent to Sell or Distribute) – Possession with an intention to sell, give away, barter, or provide illegal substances has the same penalty as being found guilty of selling or distributing. An intent to sell or distribute can be proven by exchanges of drugs for money and also by other circumstances that make it likely that someone is possessing drugs with an intent to sell them, rather than for their own personal consumption. Virginia law considers possessing certain amounts of some drugs automatically an intent to sell. For example, if you are caught with 100 grams or more of a substance with a detectable amount of heroin, you can be found guilty of intent to sell whether you were going to or not.
  • Manufacture – The manufacture of drugs is treated the same as the intent or actual sale of drugs generally.

Leesburg, Virginia Drug Crimes Attorneys

If you have been charged with a drug crime in Loudoun county, Fairfax county or anywhere in northern Virginia, you need a skilled drug crime attorney on your side to help defend you against the charges. A knowledgeable drug crime defense attorney can help to get the charges dropped or the penalties reduced. Our experienced drug crimes attorneys at Simms Showers, LLP, in Leesburg, can help you present the best defense to your charges.

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