Fairfax Criminal Lawyers | Virginia Defense Attorneys
POSSESSION OF MARIJUANA
(MARCH 4th 2020 UPDATE on Marijuana Law in Virginia)
Marijuana laws in Virginia are changing very rapidly. HB972 and SB2 2020 are two bills that pass the VA House and Senate and are headed to the Governor for signing. Both bills decriminalize possession of marijuana and possession of THC oil (aka Hash Oil) BUT these bill have NOT become law yet (as of March 4th 2020)
Possession of THC oil and Marijuana will still be illegal but they will be civil offenses NOT criminal offenses. This means that you will not go to jail for possession these offenses but can be given a ticket and up to a $25 fine (no court costs). There is also language to allow engagement of possession of marijuana convictions and arrest in the past. These laws also create a rebuttal presumption that if you have less than 1/2 oz of marijuana that you are not dealing marijuana.
Possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute it (in any quantity) will still be a criminal offense.
At this time, several Commonwealth Attorneys (including Fairfax’s) have announced their intentions to NOT prosecute certain possession of marijuana cases (not a juvenile, small amounts, not consuming publicly, not offensive behavior towards officers ect.). However, some judges have been aggressively trying to thwart this policy and have been attempting to force the prosecution of marijuana cases.
All of these policies and laws are changing dramatically and rapidly. Do NOT assume that marijuana is being ignored by the police, Do NOT assume it is legal or that you will not be prosecuted. Now more than ever you need to talk to a local attorney for up to date information on what is happening right now in Virginia courts.
(Here is what the current laws are regarding possession of marijuana as of March 4th 2020)
All marijuana convictions come with a six-month loss of license even if the driver enters the first offender diversion program under Virginia code 18.2-251.
Possessing synthetic marijuana is more serious than real marijuana. And growing marijuana can result in five to 30 years in prison. Another surprise is that there is no minimum quantity threshold for distribution. A person can be charged with distribution for sharing the scrapings from their pipe.
VA Code § 18.2-250.1 makes it a crime to possess any quantity of marijuana without a valid prescription. And a doctor cannot prescribe marijuana in Virginia.
It is a misdemeanor to possess marijuana. A first offense has a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a six-month loss of driving privileges. A second offense has a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail, $2,500 in fines, and a six-month loss of license.
First-time marijuana possession is a criminal offense and a conviction will go on a one’s criminal record forever. There is no way to expunge a criminal conviction in Virginia, even if the charge is later dismissed as part of a first offender program.
Marijuana resin, tar, residue, ash and most parts of the plant are treated as marijuana according to Va. Code §54.1-3401. Mature marijuana stalks are not considered to be marijuana under Virginia law, but only if the stalks are not combined with any other illegal part of the marijuana plant.
Because of this law, the police can charge a person with possession if they have even the tiniest amount of residue or ash on a pipe, bong, or grinder. If you have a dirty pipe, bong, grinder, or a similar item, then you can be charged with possession of marijuana.
Possession of marijuana requires the government to prove two things: 1) that the substance was marijuana and 2) that the defendant possessed it.
Proving that a substance is marijuana requires field or laboratory testing. Marijuana testing presents complicated evidential and legal issues.
Proving possession requires proving 1) that the defendant knew that the marijuana was in their control and 2) that the defendant knew the item was marijuana.
The attorneys of Nichols & Green PLLC defend hundreds of people each year in Northern Virginia. Possession of marijuana is one of the most common crimes we defend people from. Mr. Nichols and Mr. Green has spent years research and studying Virginia drug laws. Not only do they practice criminal defense, Luke Nichols and Garrett Green are also the coauthors of the Virginia Drug Crimes Defense Manual.
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Virginia, call Nichols & Green PLLC at (703) 383-9222 and let Mr. Nichols and Mr. Green share their knowledge and experience with you as part of a free consultation.
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