There is Such a Debate about Marijuana today. Unfortunately for those of you who enjoy Marijuana - it is still illegal in Virginia except in very limited circumstances. (This article must be updated).
Do not underestimate being charged with a marijuana crime in the Commonwealth of Virginia
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, you are subject to:
- Jail time
- Loss of License
- Costly Programs
- Supervised Probation
- Court Costs
- Seizure of Property
Marijuana - Definition
Marijuana is defined by Va. Code Ann. 18.2-247. The term refers to the Cannabis plant. Whether the plant is growing or not is not an issue. Resin and seeds are including under the definition. The presence of certain amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol present in marijuana oils and other parts of the plant determine if the substance is legally classified as the drug.
Possession of Marijuana and Medical Purposes Marijuana
The Commonwealth of Virginia has taken a conservative approach regarding the use of marijuana over the years. Only recently has legislation been passed allowing the possession or distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. The information relating to “medical purpose” may be found in Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-251.1. Medical doctors may now prescribe marijuana for cancer patients and to persons suffering from glaucoma. Pharmacists may dispense when presented with valid prescriptions. So long as procedures are followed, there will be no conviction for selling or distribution by either medical doctors or pharmacists.
Regarding the new “marijuana medical use” law, one must understand that it is still a crime to possess, distribute, sell or give marijuana unless done within the narrow confines as proscribed by law. Although the Commonwealth of Virginia may appear to be easing away from their strict adherence to prior anti-marijuana principals, many of the penal codes remain intact and may result in serious punishment if statutes are violated. So, understand that Marijuana use is still a crime in many instances.
Under Va. Statute Ann.§ 18.2-250.1 a person who (intentionally and knowingly) possesses marijuana may receive a misdemeanor conviction. The guilty party will serve no more than 30 days of jail time, and a fine of up to ($500.00) five hundred dollars. A second or subsequent offense will result in a guilty finding of a class one (1) misdemeanor. A class one misdemeanor includes not more than (12) months in jail and a fine of not more than ($2,500.00). These punishments only address cases involving simple possession. Some first offenders are offered a deferred disposition which permits the case to be dismissed in the future based upon the defendant meeting certain requirements given by the Court under Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-251.
Distribution, Selling, or Giving Marijuana
Distribution of Marijuana – Punishment will be classified based on quantity, accommodation versus distribution for profit or whether the seller is attempting to induce the buyer to become addicted. It is against the law for one to distribute, sell, or give marijuana to another unless the medical exception applies. It is also a violation of law to POSSESS with the intent to distribute, sell or give marijuana when unlicensed to do so.
Class (5) Felony Marijuana Distribution
When a person is convicted of distribution of marijuana involving more than (½) one-half ounce and no more than (5) five pounds, the punishment shall not be less than (1) one year nor more than (10) ten years imprisonment. An alternative is no more than (12) months jail time. A specified fine no more than ($2,500.00) twenty-five hundred dollars will be ordered. Or there may be combinations of incarceration and fine.
Marijuana Conviction with Enhanced Punishments
When a party distributes, sells or gives more than (5 lbs.) five pounds of marijuana, there will be a felony punishment involving not less than (5) five years nor more than (30) years punishment.
A party who manufactures marijuana or possesses the drug with intent to manufacture for someone other than himself will also receive not less than (5) five years nor more than (30) thirty years of incarceration. In addition, there will be a fine which cannot exceed ($10,00.00) ten thousand dollars.
When a person is convicted three or more times of marijuana distribution or the manufacturing of marijuana, the punishment becomes more severe and may result in a life sentence. There is also possible mandatory prison time (time which cannot be suspended) and higher fines.
Marijuana and Guns
When a person possesses, attempts to use, or uses firearms or displays a gun (weapon) in a threatening manner while attempting or actually committing the act of distributing, selling, giving or manufacturing more than (1 lb.) one pound of marijuana, there is a punishment of a mandatory minimum of prison of (5) years. And, the defendant may actually receive up to (10) years although (5) five years of that time may be suspended.
Lesser Punishment for Marijuana
A lesser punishment for crimes involving marijuana may be imposed when the distribution is based on accommodation, and
- There was no intent to profit
- Nor an intent to induce dependency or addiction.
In this instance, one will not serve more than (12) twelve months incarceration or a fine of no more the ($2,500) or both.