It looks as though Virginia lawmakers have agreed to decriminalize marijuana, starting on July 1, 2020. While there are some details to sort out still, if you are someone who uses marijuana, it will be welcome news.
Before you step out into the street and light up a celebratory pipe or post a “marijuana for sale” notice in your local grocery store window, we need to make something clear. This law change does not mean marijuana is legal. It merely reduces the severity of the offense if the police catch you in possession of a small amount of marijuana; having up to one ounce will no longer land you in jail. The law will assume this is for your personal use.
Unlike some states, the drug will not be on sale legally. Selling it or supplying it to others will still be illegal and result in stricter punishment. The law change is aimed at recreational users, many of whom have had their life turned upside down by being caught with a small amount of marijuana in their possession. Law enforcement authorities will still be looking out for people who make a living supplying and distributing the drug to others.
The law change also does not mean it is okay to drive while under the influence of marijuana; that will still be a serious offense. What it does mean is you will no longer temporarily lose your driving license because you have cannabis in your car — unless you have more than an ounce, or unless you are a juvenile.
If you do get caught in possession of marijuana, it is vital to know the up-to-date legal situation so you can examine your options.