Virginia Cannabis Laws
Is Cannabis Legal In Virginia?
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Is recreational cannabis legal in Virginia?
No. Recreational adult-use of cannabis is illegal in Virginia. However, cannabis legalization has been promoted via the state’s Attorney General and is favored within the democratically controlled houses of the General Assembly.
Advancements have been trending since last year when Governor Northam approved a bill to decriminalize possession of less than an ounce. As of February 2021, the effort to legalize is quickly proceeding through bipartisan chambers. Experts predict a bill to lift pot prohibition in Virginia will be brought to its first votes in the legislature in the coming days. If the bill passes, Virginia may open its recreational market by 2024.
Is Medical Marijuana legal in Virginia?
Yes and No. Vermont first passed legislation allowing doctors to recommend cannabis for glaucoma or chemotherapy’s side effects in 1979.
Since its passing, this law remained void for most of the years because prescriptions were forbode by federal law. The only advancement for medical marijuana in the state is a 2015 CBD bill, allowing CBD oil and THC-A oil to treat epilepsy patients. Despite the Virginia State Board of Pharmacy approving medical marijuana dispensaries’ applications to be built across the state, Full strength medical marijuana remains illegal.
For the upcoming 2021 season, advocates hope to create a complete medical marijuana program and a recreational use regulatory system.
Are CBD products legal in Virginia?
Yes. Since the passage of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018, hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law in the United States; as long as they contain at most 0.3% THC.
Any and all CBD in food and drink is still federally illegal.
Virginia’s Cannabis Timeline:
1937: The Marihuana (archaic spelling of Marijuana) Tax Act was enacted banning cannabis at the federal level. Medical Marijuana use was still permitted.
1951: The Boggs Act, Sponsored by Hale Boggs and signed into law under President Harry S. Truman, set mandatory sentencing and increased punishment for cannabis possession.
1969: The Marihuana Tax Act is deemed unconstitutional in the landmark Leary v. United States. Timothy Leary, a professor, and activist, was arrested for the possession of marijuana in violation of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. Leary then challenged the act because the act required self-incrimination, which violated his Fifth Amendment rights. (The self-incrimination clause provides various protections against self-incrimination, including the right of an individual to not serve as a witness in a criminal case in which they are the defendant, better known as “Pleading the Fifth.”) The court penned the unanimous opinion by Justice John Marshall Harlan II and declared the Marihuana Tax Act unconstitutional. Therefore, Leary’s conviction was overturned.
1970: The Controlled Substances Act is enacted (replacing the unconstitutional Marihuana Tax Act). Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug, determined to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use, thereby prohibiting its use for any purpose. This act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon.
This legislation created five classifications, with specific qualifications for a substance to be included in each. The substances scheduling (classification) are determined by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Yet, Congress does have the power to schedule or de-schedule substances through legislation. Substance scheduling decisions based on its potential for abuse accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and international treaties.
Classification of Controlled Substances:
Schedule I: High potential of abuse, not acceptable for medical use
Schedule II: High potential of abuse, sometimes allowed with “severe restrictions” for medical use
Schedule II: Medium potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule IV: Moderate potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
Schedule V: Lowest potential of abuse, acceptable for medical use
1979: Vermont passes medical marijuana legislation allowing doctors to recommend cannabis for glaucoma or the side effects of chemotherapy.
1984-1986: Mandatory Sentencing and the three-strikes law were created under the Reagan Administration. This accounts for some of the harshest drug laws designed, including mandatory 25-year imprisonment for certain drug offenses and the death penalty’s promotion to be used against “drug kingpins.”
1998: House Joint Resolution 117, encouraged by the passing of California’s Prop 215, the House of Representatives passed this measure to support the existing Federal legal process for determining the safety and efficacy of certain drugs.
2014: The Rohrabacher–Farr Amendment passed in the U.S. House and signed into law prohibiting the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical cannabis laws.
2015: Virginia’s HB 1445 & SB 1235 allows epilepsy patients to be treated with CBD oil.
2018: Farm bill legalizes low-THC hemp nationwide and effectively de-schedules hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) from the Controlled Substances Act.
2020: Virginia Gov. Northam approves a cannabis decriminalization bill, for adults possession of less than 1 ounce of cannabis in Virginia carries the presumption of personal use.