Marijuana use is widespread

It can be easy to forget that marijuana is considered a Schedule I controlled substance because its use is so common. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana was the most-used illicit drug in 2015, with over 22 million users.

Nonetheless, marijuana is not legal in the state of Virginia, and there are legal consequences for getting caught in possession of it.

What are the penalties?

The penalties people can expect for marijuana possession depends on the amount they get caught with and if they have been caught before.

  • Less than 0.5 oz. – This quantity will bring a misdemeanor charge. Those convicted can spend up to 30 days in jail and be required to pay a fine of up to $500.
  • Less than 0.5 oz. (second offense) – Getting caught a second time escalates the charge to a class 1 misdemeanor. Those convicted could spend up to a year in jail and be required to pay a fine of $2,500.
  • More than 0.5 oz. – Those carrying this much marijuana will often get charged with possession with intent to distribute, which is a Class 5 felony. This conviction could bring two to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $2,500, or both. For this charge, defense attorneys will often press for supporting evidence before so that people can avoid it.

What about medical marijuana?

Medical marijuana has recently been legalized in Virginia, but not for just any cannabis products. There will be five processing facilities and dispensaries across the state where approved patients can buy cannabis products.

A certified medical professional must first approve patients. Then they will receive what is called an affirmative defense card, which enables them to buy, carry, and consume regulated medical-grade cannabis products.

To sum it up

Although some cannabis products have been legalized in Virginia, recreational marijuana remains prohibited by law. If you need help defending yourself against drug charges, an experienced criminal defense attorney can help you.