NORFOLK, Va. — A years-long effort to legalize marijuana in the state of Virginia hits a major milestone in less than a month.
Beginning July 1, Virginians over the age of 21 can legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana without fear of criminal or civil penalties.
Virginia's General Assembly passed legislation to legalize sales by the year 2024, and Gov. Ralph Northam soon after expedited the process to allow for legal possession before the year's end.
With the hopes of educating the public on what exactly to expect come July, the state launched a new resource tool to help citizens better understand the new law.
“The fact there were multiple versions of the bill that came out, different stories and different aspects, people need to know what’s actually going into effect," Del. Marcia Price told 13News Now Friday. Price was the patron for the House of Delegates version of the marijuana legalization bill.
The new website, cannabis.virginia.gov, is an information hub to answer any questions civilians might have about what is or isn't going into effect. It also outlines what aspects of the drug still need to be addressed in the coming years, and how people interested in getting in on the business-side of things can get involved.
Here's what's legal in just a few weeks:
- Adults 21 years and older will be allowed to possess not more than one ounce of cannabis for personal use.
- Generally, adults 21 years and older will be allowed to use marijuana in private residences. However, nothing prohibits the owner of a private residence from restricting the use of marijuana on its premises.
- Adults 21 and over will also be allowed to grow up to four plants per household (not per person), according to specified requirements (see “Home Cultivation” below).
- “Adult sharing” or transferring one ounce or less of marijuana between persons who are 21 years or older without remuneration will be legal. "Adult sharing" does not include instances in which (i) marijuana is given away contemporaneously with another reciprocal transaction between the same parties; (ii) a gift of marijuana is offered or advertised in conjunction with an offer for the sale of goods or services; or (iii) a gift of marijuana is contingent upon a separate reciprocal transaction for goods or services.
And here's what's still illegal:
- It will remain illegal for anyone to possess more than one ounce of marijuana. Individuals found guilty of possessing more than one ounce, but not more than one pound of marijuana are subject to a civil penalty of not more than $25. Individuals found guilty of possessing more than one pound are subject to a felony.
- It will remain illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume, purchase, or possess marijuana, or to attempt to consume, purchase or possess any amount of marijuana.
- It will remain illegal to distribute or sell marijuana, and/or to possess any amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute or sell it. This prohibition applies equally to businesses, which will not be permitted to sell, “gift,” or in any other way distribute marijuana. For more information on how to obtain a license to sell marijuana in the future, see Adult-Use Cannabis Commercial Sales.
- Existing safety measures will remain in place, including prohibiting use of marijuana while driving a motor vehicle or while being a passenger in a motor vehicle being driven; possessing marijuana on school grounds, while operating a school bus, in a motor vehicle transporting passengers for hire, or in a commercial vehicle.
“There were so many twists and turns, rewrites along the way even I have to remind myself of where we are," State Sen. Joe Morrissey told 13News Now, the incorporated chief co-patron for the Senate SB 1406.
Morrissey helped write the marijuana legalization legislation, and even he admits that parts of it are confusing since legalized sales are still years away.
But overall, both Price and Morrissey say that the tool is a useful resource for all Virginians, but not every question can be answered until the state's sales catch up with legalization.
“If I can grow four plants, where do I get the seeds to plant because it’s not legal to purchase them," Morrissey pointed out.