LEARN | LAWS & REGULATIONS
Is weed legal in Virginia?
Yes and no. Medical marijuana is legal for qualified patients, but adult, or recreational, use of cannabis remains illegal in Virginia.
As of July 1, 2020, weed is decriminalized in Virginia . The new law stipulates that the maximum penalty for possessing up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a $25 fine, with no arrest or criminal record imposed.
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 permitted patients diagnosed with intractable epilepsy access to CBD or THCA oil. In 2018, Democratic 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.
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.
Medical Marijuana Registry
Patients must receive written certification by a registered practitioner prior to applying for registration with the Board of Pharmacy. Parents or legal guardians of qualified patients must also register. 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.
Residents must prove their age, residency, and identity by scanning or faxing copies of government-issued identification cards such as drivers licenses and birth certificates.
Where is it safe to purchase cannabis in Virginia?
Medical cannabis products may be purchased at approved pharmaceutical processors. The Virginia Board of Pharmacy expects patients to be able to obtain cannabis from approved pharmaceutical processors in late 2020 .
Where is it safe to consume cannabis in Virginia?
Consumption of medical cannabis is generally allowed in private, though patients may consume their cannabis medicine at school. 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 allowable medical cannabis products by anyone other than a registered patient is illegal. However, possession of 1 ounce or less of cannabis in Virginia is decriminalized, meaning it is deprioritized for law enforcement. The maximum penalty for possessing up to 1 ounce of marijuana is a $25 fine , with no arrest or criminal record imposed.
View the cannabis & CBD laws & regulations for Virginia.
Hemp CBD Across State Lines: Virginia
The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) legalized hemp by removing the crop and its derivatives from the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and by providing a detailed framework for the cultivation of hemp. The 2018 Farm Bill gives the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulatory authority over hemp cultivation at the federal level. In turn, states have the option to maintain primary regulatory authority over the crop cultivated within their borders by submitting a plan to the USDA.
This federal and state interplay has resulted in many legislative and regulatory changes at the state level. Indeed, most states have introduced (and adopted) bills that would authorize the commercial production of hemp within their borders. A smaller but growing number of states also regulate the sale of products derived from hemp. Our attorneys track these developments in real-time on behalf of multiple clients, and we provide a 50-state matrix showing how states regulate hemp and hemp products.
In light of the rapidly evolving legislative changes, we are also presenting a 50-state series analyzing how each jurisdiction treats hemp-derived cannabidiol (Hemp CBD). Today we turn to Virginia.
Earlier this year, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) submitted its plan to regulate hemp production to the USDA for review and approval. Shortly thereafter, the USDA requested that VDACS revise and resubmit its plan, which is now under second review. According to the VDACS hemp webpage, the state agency expects its plan will go into effect on October 31, 2020. This means that until then, the VDACS will continue to operate under the 2014 Farm Bill.
Virginia’s hemp rules mandate that hemp growers, handlers and processors wishing to engage in the production of hemp secure a registration from the VDACS.
Virginia is also one of the states that expressly regulate the production of hemp products intended for human consumption.
Under Virginia law, “hemp product” means
any finished product that contains industrial hemp, including rope, building materials, automobile parts, animal bedding, animal feed, cosmetics, oil containing an industrial hemp extract, or food or food additives for human consumption.”
On July 15, 2019, the VDACS Commissioner announced it would treat hemp-derived extracts intended for human consumption, such as a Hemp CBD oil, as approved food additives. Yet, neither Virginia law nor the VDACS rules overtly addressed the sale and marketing of these products. Then, in April, the governor signed into law SB 918, which helped clarify this issue. The new law, which went into effect upon its passage, provides that hemp extract that contains no more than 0.3 percent THC shall be treated as a food. A food is defined as:
any article that is intended for human consumption and introduction into commerce, whether the article is simple, mixed, or compound, and all substances or ingredients used in the preparation thereof. ‘Food’ does not mean drug as defined in § 54.1-3401.” (Emphasis added)
Therefore, the sale of these products is now expressly allowed, provided they meet “specific laws, regulations, or criteria that pertain to the manufacturer of industrial hemp extracts or food containing an industrial hemp extract in the location in which such manufacturing occurs.” It is unclear whether this law applies to both in-state and out-of-state hemp extracts or food, but this issue will likely be clarified by the VDACS, which is tasked with adopting labeling and testing requirements for these products.
Although the manufacture of cosmetics infused with Hemp CBD is allowed, their sale is not expressly addressed under Virginia law. This is likely due to the fact that the VDACS does not have jurisdiction over this category of products. Nevertheless, because cosmetics can be lawfully manufactured in the state, it seems reasonable to infer that the sale of these products is allowed so long as they contain no more than 0.3 percent THC and are safe for human consumption.
On March 23, the governor signed into law HB 962, which clarifies that the sale of Hemp CBD smokable products is lawful, provided certain packaging requirements are met and the products are not sold to any person under 21 years of age. This new law will go into effect on July 1.
We’ll continue to monitor all things hemp in Virginia and elsewhere. For previous coverage in this series, check out the links below:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Puerto Rico
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- U.S. Virgin Islands
Nathalie practices corporate law, intellectual property, and cannabis law, focusing on the regulatory framework of hemp-derived CBD products. She enjoys building a deep understanding of her clients’ businesses, industries, and long-term visions, and leverages her broad expertise and international background to help our overseas companies with their foreign direct investment…
Hemp CBD Across State Lines: Virginia The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) legalized hemp by removing the crop and its derivatives from the definition of marijuana under the