Drug policy of Virginia
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Virginia General Assembly tightned the laws on cannabis and added a provision allowing its use and distribution for cancer and glaucoma. There is currently a provision in the law, § 18.2-251, which allows a case to be dismissed if the offender goes through probation and treatment. However, those who get the "251" disposition are still subject to a mandatory six-month driver's license suspension; this penalty was imposed in response to the Solomon-Lautenberg amendment. In the 1990s, Virginia had some of the lightest penalties for cultivation in the United States; cultivation of any amount for personal use counted as simple possession (otherwise it carried felony penalties of up to 35 years imprisonment). In at least one case, a defendant with a massive grow operation of several hundred plants testified that it was all for his own use and a jury handed down a conviction for possession only. Possession is currently an unclassified misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail and a $500 fine for a first-time offense. A second offense is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by one year in jail and a $2500 fine.
- A. No person shall be prosecuted under § 18.2-250 or § 18.2-250.1 for the possession of marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol when that possession occurs pursuant to a valid prescription issued by a medical doctor in the course of his professional practice for treatment of cancer or glaucoma.
- B. No medical doctor shall be prosecuted under § 18.2-248 or § 18.2-248.1 for dispensing or distributing marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol for medical purposes when such action occurs in the course of his professional practice for treatment of cancer or glaucoma.
- C. No pharmacist shall be prosecuted under §§ 18.2-248 to 18.2-248.1 for dispensing or distributing marijuana or tetrahydrocannabinol to any person who holds a valid prescription of a medical doctor for such substance issued in the course of such doctor's professional practice for treatment of cancer or glaucoma.
In 1998, a bill was introduced to repeal the medical use provision, but it was defeated after opposition materialized from Virginians Against Drug Violence.
- Panel Backs Marijuana, Heroin Ban, Tyler Whitley, Richmond Times-Dispatch, 27 Jan 1998.
- § 18.2-251, Code of Virginia.
- § 18.2-250.1. Possession of marijuana unlawful, Code of Virginia.
- § 18.2-11. Punishment for conviction of misdemeanor, Code of Virginia.
- § 18.2-251.1. Possession or distribution of marijuana for medical purposes permitted., Code of Virginia.