Coates & Davenport, P.C.

Don't fool yourself -- marijuana is illegal in Virginia

Some states in the nation are decriminalizing the use of marijuana or even making it entirely legal to sell, possess and use the drug. However, marijuana possession remains illegal in most states in the U.S., including Virginia.

Virginia does not even carve out an exception for medical marijuana - even the mere possession of under two ounces of marijuana could mean a fine of $500, a 30-day jail sentence, or both. And, should a person in Virginia try to sell five pounds of marijuana or more, he or she could face imprisonment from anywhere from five to 30 years.

If a person in Virginia even just gives another person marijuana for free, and with no intention of getting that person addicted to marijuana, this is still considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. Moreover, there are harsher penalties if the drug crime took place within a 1000-foot radius of a school or if the drug crime involved selling marijuana to a minor.

Keep in mind that marijuana possession is illegal on a federal level as well. Under federal law, if a person is convicted of possessing marijuana, he or she could face a fine of $1,000 and 12 months in jail. If a person is charged with possessing marijuana a second time, he or she could face a fine of up to $2,500, and a jail sentence of anywhere from 15 days to two years. Finally, if a person is charged with possessing marijuana a third time, he or she could face a fine of $5,000 and a jail sentence of anywhere from 90 days to three years.

As this shows, while marijuana use may not seem too serious or may even seem commonplace, it is still illegal and the authorities will prosecute those who violate Virginia and federal marijuana laws. Those who are facing charges of possession of marijuana may want to seek the help they need to develop a strong criminal defense strategy in their favor.

Source: FindLaw, "Virginia Marijuana Laws," accessed Oct. 30, 2017

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