Updated on February 4, 2019.
Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Virginia Medical Marijuana Facts
People who were hoping there would be changes to the often-discouraging medical marijuana facts for Virginia were somewhat hopeful as the 2017 Virginia General Assembly convened. Leaders were considering several reform bills regarding cannabis policy in the state, such as decriminalizing possession of small amounts of weed and allowing expanded access to cannabidiol (CBD) oil for patients suffering from severe forms of epilepsy.
However, on February 16, 2017, a House subcommittee voted 6-5 against allowing patients with cancer and several other conditions to legally use CBD.
Medical Marijuana Facts for Virginia
- In 2015, the General Assembly voted to allow CBD oil as a treatment for severe epilepsy. The sponsor of the bill to expand the number of qualifying conditions, Sen. Jill Vogel, said she believed there were enough votes to do so. Supporters of expansion provided subcommittee members with a binder filled with research showing how cannabis can benefit people who suffer from a wide range of conditions, but the bill did not make it to the House floor for a vote. The Senate had approved the bill by a 29-11 margin in January 2017.
- One of the more interesting Virginia marijuana facts is that arrests and charges for weed-related offenses declined from 25,918 in 2013 to 22,428 in 2015. This was a substantial drop of 14 percent.
- Patients who qualify for CBD use in Virginia can still be arrested for cannabis possession although they can’t be convicted. This is known as “affirmative defense,” which means it can be raised in court once a person has been charged with the crime of possession. The defense, in this instance, would be that the person charged with possession suffers from severe epilepsy, and his or her physician provided a written certification stating that the patient could benefit from CBD use.
- To obtain CBD, patients have to travel to a state that allows people from other states to obtain medical marijuana. For many, however, this is extremely expensive. Maryland has approved a plan that would allow non-residents with written certifications to purchase medical cannabis from state-licensed dispensaries. However, those dispensaries were not expected to open until the Summer of 2017.
- Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam called on the General Assembly to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, citing the Virginia marijuana fact that the state spends nearly $70 million a year on weed enforcement.
- As the law stood as of February 2017, the penalty for possessing any amount of weed is considered to be a Class I misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of as much as $500 and up to 30 days in jail. Anyone convicted of a second, third or subsequent offense will face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Check back with MarijuanaDoctors.com on a regular basis, and we will keep you updated on medical marijuana facts for Virginia as well as all other states. We want all of our readers to be as well informed as possible regarding marijuana laws across the U.S., so we will provide developments as they warrant.