Marijuana in Virginia: Illegal, Medicinal, or Recreational?
In last week’s post, you read about heroin – how it has been in the news and the consequences of getting caught with it. The only drug that seems to get more discussion in the public forum than heroin is marijuana. While this particular drug has been discussed for many years, the conversation surrounding marijuana is only getting more complex.
For some, marijuana is a gateway drug to harder drugs; since those harder drugs’ addictions are hard to break, it should always be avoided. For others, marijuana is a medical necessity, something that should be allowed when it can help patients with their physical needs. For still some more, marijuana use should not even need a medical reason; it is harmless to a person according to this crowd, and if he or she wants to use it, that should be allowed.
Virginia’s Marijuana Laws:
It is currently illegal to possess marijuana in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you are caught with marijuana, you may be found guilty of a misdemeanor that can result in up to 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines. You can also lose your ability to drive for up to 6 months. The penalties get even worse if you are caught growing and/or distributing it.
The medical marijuana laws in Virginia are complicated. Earlier this year, the Virginia General Assembly passed laws allowing certain epilepsy patients and their caregivers the ability to possess two specific kinds of marijuana oils. The tricky part is that no doctor is allowed to prescribe those oils for medical reasons.
State of Marijuana in the Commonwealth:
All of this has led to a divide between the legislature and the population. A 2015 poll showed that the majority of Virginia residents supported the legalization of recreational marijuana. Note that it says recreational, not medicinal, marijuana. According to this poll, if the legalization of all marijuana was put to the public, it would pass.
Most residents in the pro-cannabis crowd cite the existence of a conservative government for the lag in official laws. One blog that ranked all 50 states and commonwealths put Virginia at #43 for its legal efforts. In addition to the current laws that criminalize marijuana, the blog pointed to the fact that it is possible (but not likely) to get a life sentence for selling it.
It seems inevitable that the laws will eventually change. In the meantime however, law enforcement officials are enforcing the laws currently in place. Anyone who is caught with marijuana, or worse, needs a good lawyer. While the laws have maximums – and some have minimums – a good lawyer can help to reduce those consequences. If you are on, or suspected of being on, the wrong side of the laws that are still in place in this area, call or e-mail today for a free consultation!
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