Marijuana Legalization in Virginia: What You Need to Know

Adults can possess and cultivate small amounts of the drug starting in July

By Associated Press, Drew Wilder and Mariela Patron

Virginia became the first southern U.S. state to legalize marijuana on April 7, 2021.

Gov. Ralph Northam accelerated the legalization process as Democrats said the bill was urgently needed to end disparate treatment of people of color under current marijuana laws.

Black Virginians are still four times more likely than whites to face a court summons for possession of marijuana, according to court records analyzed by Virginia Public Media.

Northern Virginia Bureau Reporter Drew Wilder goes inside a marijuana grow facility as Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam proposes speeding up legalization.

Cannabis companies, such as Jushi in Manassas, are at the center of legal growing and dispensing operations in the commonwealth. State Sen. Adam Ebbin said medical operations are key to Virginia moving into commercial recreational adult use.

"It's a huge illicit market," Erich Mauff, president of Jushi, said. "And what we are looking to do is create a safe alternative to that."

When is marijuana officially legal in Virginia?

Adults age 21 and older can possess and cultivate small amounts of the drug starting July 1.

How much can you possess?

Adults may legally possess no more than one ounce (28.3 grams) of cannabis without the intent to distribute. People who possess more than one pound of marijuana can face up to 10 years in prison.

Can you use marijuana publicly?

Public use of the drug will be prohibited.

How much can cannabis can you cultivate?

Adults can cultivate up to four plants for personal use per household. The plants should be kept away from public view, and each one should have a legible tag that include the person's name and driver's license or identification number.

What does the law say about sharing marijuana?

Adults sharing marijuana or marijuana products that do not exceed one ounce will not face civil or criminal penalties.

However, the law states that adults cannot gift marijuana in conjunction with the sale of goods or services.

How about transporting marijuana?

Marijuana or marijuana products cannot be imported, shipped, transported or brought into Virginia.

When will retail sale begin?

It will be years before legal retail sales follow legalized possession. The bill lays out the complex process of creating a new state agency to oversee the marijuana marketplace, with sales beginning and regulations taking effect on Jan. 1, 2024.

CORRECTION (April 20, 2021; 10:23 a.m.): An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated marijuana was legalized in Virginia in 2020. It happened in 2021.

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