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Virginia Laws and Penalties

A majority of the Virginia legislature voted on April 7, 2021 to approve amendments to Senate Bill 1406 | House Bill 2312, which legalizes the personal use and possession of marijuana on July 1, 2021. Provisions in the law permit those age 21 and over to possess up to one ounce in public. Separate provisions in the law regulating the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis do not take effect until January 1, 2024.

“Adult sharing” of up to one ounce of marijuana or an equivalent amount of marijuana products between persons who are 21 years of age or older without remuneration is permitted under the new law. “Adult sharing” does not include instances in which marijuana is given away contemporaneously with another reciprocal transaction between the same parties; a gift of marijuana is offered or advertised in conjunction with an offer for the sale of goods or services; or a gift of marijuana is contingent upon a separate reciprocal transaction for goods or services.

In 2020, Governor Northam approved legislation (Senate Bill 2 | House Bill 972) decriminalizing marijuana possession offenses. It took effect on July 1, 2020. The law reduced penalties for offenses involving the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana to a civil violation – punishable by a maximum $25 fine, no arrest, and no criminal record, and established a rebuttable presumption that a person who possesses no more than one ounce of marijuana possesses it for personal use. It also explicitly seals past marijuana convictions from employers and school administrators. Separate legislation, SB 5013, signed into law in October 2020 permits those summoned to prepay their bill rather than having to appear in person for a court appearance.

Cultivation

A majority of the Virginia legislature voted on April 7, 2021 to approve amendments to Senate Bill 1406 | House Bill 2312, which legalized the personal cultivation of marijuana on July 1, 2021. Provisions in the law permits those age 21 and over to cultivate up to four plants per household at their primary place of residence. The law requires that no marijuana plant is visible from a public way without the use of aircraft, binoculars, or other optical aids, and that precautions are taken to prevent unauthorized access by persons younger than 21 years of age. To each plant must be attached a legible tag that includes the person’s name, driver’s license or identification number, and a notation that the marijuana plant is being grown for personal use.

Sale/Delivery

In VA, having a large quantity of marijuana is not proof of intent to distribute alone. Distributing more than one ounce of marijuana, but less than 5 pounds, is a Class 5 felony, punishable by at least one year but not more than 10 years in jail. For a first offense, the judge may use his discretion to sentence the offender to a term in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500.

  • Va. Code. Ann. § 18.2-248.1 (2015) Web Search

Distributing more than 5 pounds, but less than 100kg, of marijuana is a felony punishable by no less than 5 and no more than 30 years in prison.

  • Va. Code. Ann. § 18.2-248.1 (2015) Web Search

Distributing more than 100kg of marijuana is punishable with an automatic 20 years to life sentence, with 20 years being the mandatory minimum sentence. This mandatory minimum may be reduced by the judge if:

  1. the person does not have a prior conviction for an drug-related offense;
  2. the person did not use violence or credible threats of violence or possess a firearm or other dangerous weapon in committing the offense and did not convince another participant in the offense to do so;
  3. the offense did not result in death or serious bodily injury to any person;
  4. the person was not an organizer, leader, manager, or supervisor of others in the offense, and was not engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise; and
  5. the offender cooperates with police and judicial officials by providing to the State all information and evidence the person has concerning the offense, but the fact that the person has no relevant or useful other information to provide or that the Commonwealth already is aware of the information shall not preclude a determination by the court that the defendant has complied with this requirement.

A third sale or intent to distribute conviction brings a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years.

  • Va. Code Ann. §18.2-248 (H) (2015) Web Search

Distributing more than 1 ounce of marijuana to any person under 18 years of age who is at least 3 years younger than the offender, or using such a minor to distribute more than 1 ounce of marijuana, is a felony and will be punished with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 years, a maximum sentence of 50 years, and a fine of no more than $100,000.

  • Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-255 (2015). Web Search

Distributing 1 ounce of marijuana or less to any person under 18 years of age who is at least 3 years younger than the offender, or using such a minor to distribute less than 1 ounce of marijuana, is a felony and will be punished with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 2 years, a maximum sentence of 50 years, and a fine of no more than $100,000.

  • Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-255 (2015) Web Search

Distributing more than a half-ounce of marijuana within 1,000 ft. of a school or school bus stop is a felony, punishable with a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year and a maximum sentence of 5 years, plus a fine not to exceed $100,000. However, if such person proves that he sold such controlled substance or marijuana only as an accommodation to another individual and not with intent to profit thereby, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by confinement in jail for not longer than 12 months and a fine not to exceed $2,500.

  • Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-255.2 (2015) Web Search
  • Va. Code Ann. § 63.2-100 (2015) Web Search
Manufacture

Any person who manufactures marijuana, or possesses marijuana with the intent to manufacture such substance, not for personal use is guilty of a felony punishable by mandatory imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 30 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.

  • Va. Code Ann. § 18,2-248.1 (2015) Web Search
Trafficking

Transporting 5lbs or more of marijuana into Virginia with the intent to distribute it is a felony, punishable with a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years, a maximum sentence of 40 years, and a fine not to exceed $1,000,000. A second or subsequent conviction for the same crime raises the mandatory minimum sentence to 10 years.

  • Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-248.01 (2015) Web Search
Hash & Concentrates

In Virginia, hashish and concentrates fall under the definition of marijuana, meaning that the restrictions and penalties associated with marijuana also apply to hashish and concentrates.

Paraphernalia

Any person who sells or possesses with intent to sell drug paraphernalia, knowing that it is either designed for use or intended by such person for use to illegally plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body marijuana is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 12 months in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.

  • Va. Code Ann. §§ 18.2-11- 18.2-265.3 (2015) Web Search

Any person eighteen years of age or older who sells drug paraphernalia to a minor who is at least three years junior to the accused is guilty of an additional Class 6 felony, which is punishable by not more than 12 months in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500.

  • Va. Code. Ann § 18.2-265.3 (2015) Web Search

Advertising for the sale of drug paraphernalia is a Class I misdemeanor with a punishment of confinement for not more than 12 months in jail and a fine of not more than $2,500.

  • Va. Code Ann. §18.2-265.5 (2015) Web Search

Knowingly distributing any printed material the distributor knows contains advertisements for drug paraphernalia is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and a fine of not more than $2,500.

  • Va. Code Ann. §18.2-265.5 (2015) Web Search
Miscellaneous
Fortified drug house

Maintaining a fortified drug house is a Class 5 felony, punishable with a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year, and a maximum sentence of 10 years.

  • Va. Code Ann. §18.2-258.02 (2015) Web Search
More Information
Drugged Driving

Every state criminalizes driving under the influence of a controlled substance. Some jurisdictions also impose additional per se laws. In their strictest form, these laws forbid drivers from operating a motor vehicle if they have a detectable level of an illicit drug or drug metabolite (i.e., compounds produced from chemical changes of a drug in the body, but not necessarily psychoactive themselves) present in their bodily fluids above a specific, state-imposed threshold. Read further information about cannabinoids and their impact on psychomotor performance. Additional information regarding cannabinoids and proposed per se limits is available online.

Legalization

Generally, legalization means a policy that supports a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers can buy marijuana for personal use from a safe legal source.

Mandatory Minimum Sentence

When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to “life MMS” must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.

Medical Marijuana

This state has medical marijuana laws enacted. Modern research suggests that cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief, nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant and emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors, and are neuroprotective.

How to Grow Weed and Not Get Caught – Privacy comes first!

Safety Precautions when Growing Weed Indoors and Buying Marijuana Seeds online

Rule 1: Never tell anyone, not even your friends, that you've started growing!

I know, I know, this is common sense, right?

But unfortunately it's not. Telling the wrong person is the number 1 most common reason growers get caught.

No, growers don't get usually caught because their seeds were intercepted, or because they were buying some hydroponic growing equipment.

Here's my "never get caught, ever, for growing weed" policy: You can never trust someone else as closely as yourself.

That is why should never, ever tell a soul that you grow marijuana. No excuses.

If someone asks you where you got your weed, tell them you'd rather not talk about it and leave it at that.

Don't ever give hints that you know how to grow weed. If you encounter others who are talking about it, bite your lip and act dumb!

Rule 2: Be smart when getting marijuana seeds shipped.

Basically, don't get your marijuana seeds shipped to the house where you're going to grow your weed.

I think this rule is self-explanatory. Don't get marijuana seeds shipped to where you'll be growing your weed.

Rule 3: Consider all sounds, smells, and light that come from your grow room.

Block all windows with light-proof fabric or curtains. The bright lights you use to grow marijuana are a dead give-away that someone is growing weed inside.

Lights can give off a hum, but usually it's water pumps that make the most sound when growing. If you have a roommate, or if you share a wall with a neighbor, you need to buy a better water pump or better light set that is dead quiet.

Remember, you will get used to the smell!

If you're venting air outside, control odors with a carbon scrubber. This is something that air passes through which will remove the odors before they go outside. If that's not enough, you'll need to start going crazy with the odor-control products. You'll often find some of the best ones at hydroponic stores. 🙂

Rule 4: Be smart about comings and goings to your home or grow area (especially with lots of growing supplies).

People are surprisingly nosy about what you're doing. Remember that.

If some bored neighbor is watching you, it's going to seem weird if you're going in and out of your house with pots, nutrients, big bags of soilless grow mix, etc, if you don't actually grow anything.

That's why one of the best covers for growing weed is growing a few other plants, whether it's flowers, vegetables, fruits, etc. I keep a few flower pots with random flowers on my front porch, and have a vegetable garden in the back, which is an ideal cover.

If that's not an option, then make sure you are not observed when you come and go with supplies. Night is best.

Rule 5: Sorry, no more guests.

You can't have guests over to your house. Many arrests have come from a random guest coming across a grow rooms by accident.

If you're serious about privacy, no more guests inside your home until you build a secret passageway to an underground grow room.

Rule 6: Consider that helicopters with heat cameras can fly over your house.

If you have a large indoor garden, then you already know how hard it can be to control the heat. Controlling heat is good for your plants, but you also need to do it to avoid getting caught.

This is why growing weed with CFLs can be so appealing for the small-time grower. They barely give off any heat, but you can still produce a few ounces a month.

Rule 7: Use your common sense.

It's easy to get comfortable after a while if you've been growing weed for a long time.

It's important to remember that, while medical marijuana has been legalized in many areas, it is still considered illegal to grow marijuana in much of the world.

Use the same amount of caution that you would use if your life depended on it.