Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Virginia Marijuana Laws

Though many states have either legalized or decriminalized the possession and use of marijuana for recreational purposes, the possession of marijuana generally remains illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia and under federal law. The penalties for marijuana possession, distribution and cultivation can be strict. A conviction can potentially cost you money, your driver's license and/or your freedom.

The experienced attorneys at The Law Office of Louis K. Nagy, PLC, provide high-quality professional legal defense against criminal charges involving marijuana possession and distribution. We work hard to help our clients avoid jail sentences and to otherwise minimize the impact these types of charges can have on their lives. Our years of experience with drug charges have taught us how to protect our clients' rights and ensure they receive fair treatment under the law..

Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions we receive about Virginia's marijuana laws.

Q: What are the penalties for marijuana possession in Virginia?

A first offense of simple possession can carry a sentence of up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $500, or both. Further, a conviction for even simple possession of marijuana will result in a six-month suspension of your driver's license under Virginia law. For a second or subsequent conviction, you could be sentenced to up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both.

Q: What are the penalties for selling marijuana in Virginia?

The penalties you can face generally depend on the amount of marijuana you allegedly sold or intended to sell. For half an ounce or less, the charge is a misdemeanor and the possible sentence includes up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500. If the amount in question is between half an ounce and five pounds, the charge is a felony and can carry a much harsher sentence, including the possibility of up to 10 years in prison and up to $2,500 fine. For more than five pounds of marijuana, the charge is a felony that carries from five to 30 years in prison.

Q: How long will a conviction for possession of marijuana stay on my record?

Any conviction for any criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia will remain on your record for life, even for a first offense. There is no way to expunge a criminal conviction under Virginia law unless you later receive a pardon from the governor, which is extremely difficult to get.

Q: What is a "first offender disposition?"

In Virginia, individuals who have never been charged or convicted of a previous drug offense may be able to take advantage of Virginia's first offender program pursuant to Virginia Code Section 18.2-251. The program is only available for people charged with possession and does not apply to persons charged with distribution offenses. Those who elect to participate in the program generally must complete a one-year probationary period where they are subjected to drug and/or alcohol screening. During that time period, participants must also complete a number of community service hours ranging from 24 to 75 hours depending on the situation. Once the individual successfully completes the probation period, the charge is dismissed, although "dismissal" does not mean that the charge is expunged from the persons record.

Q: Can I get a marijuana possession charge expunged?

It may be possible to expunge your criminal record if the possession charge did not result in a conviction. It is important to note that under current Virginia law, you cannot expunge a dismissed charge of possessing marijuana if the charge was dismissed because you participated in a first-offender disposition under Virginia Code Section 18.2-251. Your best chance of successfully keeping your record clear of evidence that you were charged with a marijuana offense is to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Q: Does Virginia allow marijuana use for medical purposes?

The Commonwealth of Virginia does permit the use of medical marijuana. However, the laws about what may be used and the conditions under which they may be used are specific and must be carefully followed. At a minimum, the use of medical marijuana in Virginia requires a valid prescription from a licensed physician, and generally can only be prescribed for a small number of medical conditions. If you believe you may qualify for the use of medical marijuana, it is important to consult with your doctor and, possibly, an attorney to make sure you do not run afoul of the law.

Learn More About Marijuana Laws And How We Can Help

Call The Law Office of Louis K. Nagy, PLC, in Harrisonburg at 540-315-8450 to schedule a free consultation with one of our defense attorneys. The earlier in the process you get in touch with us, the better able we will be to defend you or your loved one against marijuana charges. Our conversation will be completely confidential.