Despite changing public opinion on the issue, Marijuana is still illegal in Virginia. The possession, distribution, and manufacture of Marijuana carries serious consequences.
Possession of Marijuana
§ 18.2-250.1 of the Code of Virginia
In Virginia, the knowing or intentional possession of marijuana is illegal. A first offense possession of marijuana charge is a Misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine not more than $500.00. Therefore, all second and subsequent offenses are punishable as a Class 1 Misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500.00). In addition to these penalties and regardless of whether the offense occurred in a motor vehicle, § 18.2-259.1 of the Code of Virginia proscribes a license suspension for a mandatory six months for any second or subsequent conviction for possession of marijuana. On a first offense, a person can do community service in the amount of 50 hours to avoid the license suspension.
EXCEPTIONS: If a person possesses marijuana that was obtained directly from or pursuant to a valid prescription issued by a doctor in the course of his practice, the possession is lawful. Furthermore, law enforcement officers may possess marijuana when it is necessary for the performance of their duties.
NO PRESUMPTIONS: Virginia law, § 18.2-250.1 specifically states that there is no presumption that a person knowingly or intentionally possessed marijuana merely because a person owns or occupies the premises or vehicle where the marijuana is found.
Distribution, Possession with the Intent to Distribute and Manufacture of Marijuana:
§ 18.2-248.1 of the Code of Virginia
In Virginia, the distribution or the possession with the intent to distribute Marijuana can result in a serious criminal conviction. The weight of the marijuana found determines the severity of the offense.
- If the marijuana located weighs half an ounce or less, a person can be convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and a fine not to exceed $2,500.00).
- If the marijuana located weighs more than a half an ounce but no more than five pounds, a person can be convicted of a Class 5 Felony (up to 10 years incarceration and a fine not to exceed $2,500.00).
Should the marijuana located weigh more than five pounds, a person can
be sentenced to no less than 5 years and nor more than 30 years of incarceration.
- Key note: While the Court is required to sentence a person to at least five years of incarceration upon conviction, the Court may suspend a portion of or all of that sentence upon certain conditions. What does this mean? Just because you are charged with this offense does not mean you will automatically go to jail for five years.
Separately, Virginia punishes to act of manufacturing marijuana harshly. Any person who manufactures marijuana, not for his own use, can be punished with incarceration for not less than five nor more than 30 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.
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