Virginia

Is weed legal in Virginia?

Almost. Medical marijuana is legal for qualified patients, but adult, or recreational, use of cannabis remains illegal in Virginia but only until June 30, 2021. After that, possession of 1 ounce (28 grams) or less and cultivation of up to four plants per household will be legal for adults 21 and older. 

Virginia decriminalized weed in July, 2020, making the maximum penalty for possessing up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana is a $25 fine, which doesn't go on the person's criminal record. 

Legislation history

Virginia passed one of the country's first medical marijuana laws in 1979. The law was a provision in the state's criminal code stating that a person would not be prosecuted for possession of marijuana in Virginia if he or she had a valid prescription from a doctor for using cannabis to treat the symptoms of glaucoma or the side effects of chemotherapy. However, physicians can not legally issue prescriptions since the term “prescribe” applies only to FDA-regulated substances. 

In 2017, the General Assembly approved a bill allowing limited cannabis cultivation and dispensation and access to CBD or THCA oil for patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. In 2018, Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill expanding access to more Virginians by allowing physicians to recommend medical marijuana to any patients who could benefit. 

In 2019, the state passed legislation allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to issue written certifications for patients to use medical cannabis extracts. It also stipulated that each dose could contain up to 10 milligrams of THC.

Virginia's legislature passed Senate Bill 1406 and House Bill 2312 in April 2021, making it the first southern state to legalize cannabis for adult use, and the fourth to do so via legislative action. (The bills had previously gone to Gov. Ralph Northam who requested changes; the bills officially became law without requiring the governor's signature once the changes were included.) The action legalized possession of an ounce (28 grams) or less of cannabis and cultivation of up to four plants per household starting July 1, 2021, rather than in 2024 as the bill originally stipulated. 

Other parts of the bill, including retail sales, will take effect on July 1, 2024, allowing time for the Cannabis Control Authority and other organizations created by the bill to create the necessary framework for regulating and overseeing cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and retail sales. Like other states that recently legalized cannabis, Virginia included provisions designed to address long-standing issues around race, social equity, and enforcement of cannabis laws. Measures include helping communities and individuals most affected by the war on drugs through licensing preferences and investment of a third of cannabis sales tax revenues. Because the bills passed in a special session, lawmakers must re-approve them in 2022.  

The Virginia Board of Pharmacy regulates cannabis products for medicinal use within the state. The board operates under the state's Department of Health Professions. The Virginia Cannabis Control Authority will oversee adult-use cannabis in the state. 

Where is it safe to purchase cannabis in Virginia?

Registered patients can purchase cannabis oil with at least 5 milligrams of CBD or THCA and no more than 10 mg THC per dose from approved pharmaceutical processors. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy maintains a list of processors. 

Where is it safe to consume cannabis in Virginia?

Consumption of medical cannabis oil is generally allowed on private property. Certifications should be kept with the medical cannabis products in accordance with Virginia drug laws. Medical cannabis products must be kept in sealed containers out of reach of drivers or passengers in motor vehicles. Driving while impaired is illegal. Smoking cannabis flower is also illegal.

Where can I possess cannabis in Virginia?

Possession of any cannabis products other than a 90-day supply of medical cannabis oil by anyone other than a registered patient is illegal. However, possession of 1 ounce of cannabis or less is decriminalized, meaning the maximum penalty for possessing up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a $25 fine.  

Medical marijuana registry

Patients must receive written certification from a registered practitioner prior to applying for registration with the Board of Pharmacy. If the patient is younger than 18 years old, their parent or legal guardian must register themself and the patient as well. To find providers who are registered to recommend medical cannabis, patients can look up qualified professionals. 

Registration is $50 per year for patients, $25 for parents and legal guardians. The certification and registration are valid for one year and must be renewed annually.

Patients must prove their age, residency, and identity by scanning or faxing copies of government-issued identification cards such as drivers licenses and birth certificates.

Reciprocity

Virginia currently has no reciprocity agreements with other states.

Lab testing

Third-party lab testing and product labeling are required and labs must be accredited by the state.

Products must be tested for:

  • Cannabinoids
  • Heavy metals
  • Microbes 
  • Mycotoxins
  • Pesticides
  • Terpenes

Frequently asked questions

When will marijuana be legal in Virginia?

Medical marijuana is legal now and possession of up to 1 ounce (28 grams) of cannabis and up to four plants per household will be legal for adults 21 and older beginning July 1, 2021. Sales won't begin until at least 2024 though. 

How do you get medical marijuana in Virginia?

Visit a registered practitioner to obtain a written certification for medical cannabis oil. (Check with the Board of Pharmacy to find registered practitioners.) Then apply for registration with the Board of Pharmacy, fill out the application, pay the $50 fee, and provide proof of residency and identity. Once you're approved, you can buy cannabis oil from one of the state's pharmaceutical processors.

What are the marijuana laws in Virginia?

Certified and registered patients or their parents/guardians can purchase and possess medical cannabis oil. For everyone else, it's illegal but possession of up to 1 ounce (28 grams) is decriminalized and carries the penalty of a $25 fine. Beginning July 1, 2021, possession of up to 1 ounce (28 grams) and four plants per household will be completely legal for adults 21 and older.

How do you add the legalization of marijuana to a Virginia ballot?

Virginia doesn't allow citizens initiatives so any path to legalization will have to go through the state legislature. And you don't have to because the legislature acted in 2021, legalizing possession of up to an ounce 28 grams) and cultivation of up to four plants per household for adults 21 and older.

This page was last updated April 18, 2021.

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The information contained in this site is provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical or legal advice. This page was last updated on July 19, 2021.