New Virginia Marijuana Laws
In April 2021, Virginia legislators passed a series of new marijuana laws with sweeping effects. If you are a resident or visitor in Virginia, continue reading to learn more about how these laws could impact you.
What Are the New Virginia Marijuana Laws?
Virginia’s new marijuana laws include:
- HB 2312, which ends criminal penalties for “simple” possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for those 21 or older, alters certain other marijuana-related criminal penalties and establishes limits on the types of information regarding marijuana-related offenses that can be disclosed in criminal history records requests. HB 2312 also:
- Establishes the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority and several other cannabis-related oversights, advisory, and financing agencies
- Establishes licensing systems for marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, wholesaling, and retail sale
- Introduces social equity structures that offer resources and support to individuals and groups who have “historically and disproportionately” been affected by prior drug laws and enforcement
- HB 1821, which prohibits the arrest or prosecution of an individual for drug-related offenses, such as unlawful possession or public intoxication, if the only evidence for their prosecution is obtained as they are rendering aid to another individual suffering a drug overdose. Current laws only prohibit arrest or prosecution for drug-related offenses for individuals who seek or receive overdose-related medical attention for themselves or individuals suffering overdoses while others seek medical attention on their behalf.
- HB 2113, which introduces a procedure to automatically seal police and court records for certain types of convictions, deferred dispositions, acquittals, nolle prossed offenses, and dismissed offenses. HB 2113 also grants individuals the right to file petitions to have police and court records sealed for certain other convictions.
When Will the New Marijuana Laws Come into Effect?
The effective dates for Virginia’s new marijuana laws are staggered over the course of a three-year legalization process. As of July 1, 2021, simple possession and limited home cultivation of marijuana have been legalized for adults 21 and older.
In 2022, a Health Advisory Council is slated to assist the Cannabis Control Authority in finalizing Virginia’s marijuana regulations, developing a social equity program, and granting marijuana business licenses. The legal retail sale of marijuana to adults 21 and older is expected to begin in 2024.
What If I’ve Been Convicted of Possessing or Selling Marijuana Before? What Happens to My Record?
As of July 1, 2021, police records of misdemeanor charges, arrests, and convictions related to the possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute have been automatically sealed. However, court records regarding possession with intent to distribute are still public, as are court records regarding simple possession.
The General Assembly plans to enact a law that would automatically seal records of misdemeanor marijuana possession charges from the court system in 2025.
Will Teens Be Able to Possess Marijuana?
No, Virginia teens cannot legally possess marijuana as a result of the new law. Only adults 21 or older can legally possess marijuana under the new law.
Contact Our Experienced Virginia Drug Crime Defense Attorney for Help
If you have a prior marijuana-related charge, arrest, or conviction on your record, drug crime defense attorney Samantha Upton is ready to discuss your situation and how she can help. Contact Upton Law, PLLC, to learn more during your confidential consultation.