Last year, Virginia decriminalized marijuana. Although possessing marijuana without a prescription is still unlawful, it is now a civil offense as opposed to a criminal one. This means people found with marijuana will face a civil penalty (fine) of no more than $25 instead of criminal charges. Still, the United States has not decriminalized marijuana, so even a civil marijuana citation can appear on your record and impact you if you are dealing with a federal process, such as immigration or employment.
Note: Medical marijuana is legal in Virginia, so the best way to use marijuana and follow the law is to get a prescription!
More Changes March 1st
Starting March 1, 2021, law-enforcement officers may no longer “stop, search, or seize any person, place, or thing solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana.” This means officers cannot pull you over or enter your home if your car or house smells like marijuana, and officers may not question you under any circumstances due to the smell of marijuana alone.
Additionally, any evidence a law-enforcement officer finds during a stop or search will become inadmissible in legal proceedings unless the officer had another reason to stop you.
These rules apply throughout Virginia – except in airports and when related to commercial vehicles.
For an in-depth explanation, watch Attorney Thayer explain the changes on her YouTube channel (opens a YouTube video in a new window).
What To Do If You Get a Ticket for Marijuana
Although Virginia has made it simple to pay the fine(s) associated with marijuana possession, you should not pay this fine if officers mishandled your situation. Twenty-five dollars may not seem like a big deal, but any infraction can go on your record and cause trouble in the future, particularly if you are applying for citizenship or wish to pursue federal employment.
Driving under the influence of marijuana also remains a criminal offense, so if officers wish to charge you with a DUI, they must have a reason – other than the smell of marijuana – to initiate an investigation.
You have to follow the law, but so do members of law enforcement.
If an officer violates § 18.2-250.1 of the Code of Virginia during your next traffic stop or interaction with police, contact an attorney right away.
At The Law Office of Ann Thayer, PLLC, we are dedicated to protecting your rights.
If you have questions about Virginia’s revised marijuana laws and how they apply to your case, please call us at (703) 940-0001 and schedule a free consultation or contact us online, and we’ll call you back.
We are available 24/7, so don’t hesitate to get in touch today.