Sunday, November 27, 2022

Legalized Marijuana is Just a Stone’s Throw Away

Marijuana use becomes legal in Virginia on July 1. (Courtesy of Unsplash)

STATEWIDE —  After July 1, everyday will be 420 in Virginia. 

For all the jokers, smokers and midnight tokers out there, the signing of House Bill 2312 means personal use, possession, and cultivation of marijuana are finally legalized within the Commonwealth. 

Members of the State Senate and the House of Delegates approved the legislation, Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312, which are identical, back on Feb. 28, 2021. 

RELATED STORY: Virginia legislature votes to legalize marijuana

Gov. Ralph Northam then signed the bill into law on Wednesday, April 21, according to a news release from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). 

The new law will establish the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (the Authority), the Cannabis Oversight Commission, the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council, the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Board and Fund, and the Virginia Cannabis Equity Business Loan Program and Fund. 

Also created are a regulatory and licensing structure for the cultivation, manufacture, wholesale, and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products, which will be administered by the Authority.

What happens next

The new legislation that takes effect on July 1 allows adults ages 21 and older to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

The penalties for individuals caught in possession of between one ounce and one pound is a $25 civil fine. Anything more than one pound will be considered a felony punishable by between one and 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  

Anyone under the age of 21 in possession of marijuana will face a $25 civil penalty and will be ordered to enter a substance abuse treatment or education program. 

In a June 7 report, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), the Virginia General Assembly’s “watchdog” agency, suggested that lawmakers add a misdemeanor charge before it becomes a felony charge. 

It also recommends that the state government make possession of 2.5 ounces to one pound a misdemeanor charge, similar to other states where recreational pot is legal. 

Growing your own

Starting July 1, it will be legal for Virginians ages 21 and older to grow up to four marijuana plants per home. 

On April 7, a majority of the Virginia legislature voted to approve amendments to the law, which legalizes the personal cultivation of weed.

The new law requires that marijuana plants cannot be visible from a public place without the use of binoculars, aircraft or other optical aids. 

Each plant must have a tag attached that includes the person’s name, driver’s license or identification number, along with a note that the marijuana is being grown for personal use. 

Marijuana in the car

Consuming any cannabis products in a moving vehicle as either a driver or a passenger will still be illegal after July 1. 

According to Virginia’s cannabis website, “existing safety measures will remain in place, including prohibiting use of marijuana while driving a motor vehicle or while being a passenger in a motor vehicle being driven; possessing marijuana on school grounds, while operating a school bus, in a motor vehicle transporting passengers for hire, or in a commercial vehicle.”

Selling marijuana products

Retail operations for marijuana sales will become fully legal on Jan. 1, 2024. 

Until then, distributing between one ounce and five pounds of marijuana is considered a Class 5 felony in Virginia, punishable by at least one year, but not more than 10 years in jail.

Distributing more than five pounds and up to 100kg is a felony punishable by at least five years and no more than 30 years in prison. 

Distribution of more than 100kg of marijuana is punishable with an automatic 20 years to life sentence. 

Where to buy

So far, there are a total of four dispensaries in Virginia, according to NORML. 

Beyond/Hello

8100 Albertstone Cir, Manassas, VA 20109

(703) 420-4021

Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 a.m. and  Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Dharma Pharmaceuticals

26864 Watauga Rd, Abingdon, VA 24211

(276) 644-6400  info@dharmacann.com

Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.- 6 p.m., Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.- 4 p.m.

gLeaf Medical Cannabis 

2804 Decatur St, Building 30, Richmond, VA 23224

(800) 484-0303

Monday-Saturday 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. and Sunday 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Columbia Care

4012 Seaboard Ct, Portsmouth, VA 23701

(757) 315-6808

Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

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