As you may have heard, in 2020 Virginia passed a bill decriminalizing the simple possession of marijuana. There are a lot of questions about this we have already been asked, and we like to keep our clients informed of the answers to some frequently asked questions. Please note that every case is different and you should speak with an attorney directly if you need information that relates directly to you.
What does the bill mean?
The simple possession of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense. A police officer can still give you a ticket/summons for simple possession of marijuana and if you are convicted you could be given a civil penalty of up to $25. Previous possibly penalties (jail time, loss of driver’s license, ordered drug treatment) no longer exist.
When will it go into effect?
It is scheduled to go into effect on July 1, 2020.
What if I already have a pending possession of marijuana case?
Every case is different, and you should speak directly with an attorney who works regularly in the county where you have the pending charge.
What about THC Oil (aka Hash Oil)?
The bill defines “marijuana” to include hashish oil. Before now, possession of THC oil would be charged as a felony offense in Virginia.
What about distribution cases, or possession with intent to distribute (PWID) marijuana?
The laws and possible criminal penalties for the distribution, manufacture, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana still remain in effect. It is still possible to be criminally charged. However, the bill creates a rebuttable presumption that possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana is for personal use.
What about records and expungement?
According to the General Assembly’s Summary, this bill
(i) makes records relating to the arrest, criminal charge, or conviction of possession of marijuana not open to public inspection and disclosure, except in certain circumstances; (ii) prohibits employers and educational institutions from requiring an applicant for employment or admission to disclose information related to such arrest, criminal charge, or conviction; and (iii) prohibits agencies, officials, and employees of the state and local governments from requiring an applicant for a license, permit, registration, or governmental service to disclose information concerning such arrest, criminal charge, or conviction. (see this link)
It’s difficult to say at this stage what that will mean for individuals previously charged with or convicted of possession of marijuana. If you have a pending charge or more questions about expungement, please contact our office at (703) 934-8580 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
Any other thoughts?
It’s important to note that this bill does not legalize marijuana. The police can still stop and search and ticket you for having it.
The manufacture, sale, and possession with intent to sell marijuana in Virginia is still an illegal criminal offense. Use good judgment.
The best option is to always consult with an attorney. If you have any questions about this post or anything else, we are available by phone at (703) 934-8580 or at email@example.com