Virginia governor signs decriminalization bill into law!
Last update: May 21, 2020
On May 21, Gov. Ralph Northam signed SB 2/ HB 972 into law, which decriminalizes up to one ounce of marijuana. In doing so, Virginia became the 27th state to decriminalize simple marijuana possession The new law goes into effect on July 1, 2020.
The new law will make possession of one ounce or less of marijuana a civil penalty punishable by a $25 fine. It also creates a workgroup to study legalization. You can read a full summary of the bill here.
This reform is long overdue. Under current law, marijuana possession is a criminal offense punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine. Polling has shown that 83 percent of Virginians support replacing criminal convictions for marijuana possession with a fine, and 61 percent support ending prohibition all together.
Virginia's quasi-medical marijuana law keeps improving
Since enacting a 2017 law that permitted patients suffering from intractable epilepsy to use some types of cannabis oil with a doctor’s certification, lawmakers have continually improved the program.
Once the latest improvements go into effect on July 1, 2020, Virginia patients with any condition will be able to receive recommendations to use and purchase cannabis preparations with no more than 10 milligrams of THC per dose. Flower is not allowed.
In 2018, Gov. Ralph Northam signed HB 1251, allowing doctors to recommend CBD or THC-A cannabis oil for any condition.
In 2019, Gov. Northam signed legislation allowing physician's assistants and licensed nurse practitioners to issue recommendations.
In April 2020, the governor approved a bill that will legalize CBD and THC-A rich medical cannabis products for registered patients, starting on July 1, 2020. Under current law, patients only have an “affirmative defense,” which is a protection the defendant can raise during a criminal prosecution.
In April 2020, lawmakers approved a revised version of SB 976, which will allow marijuana extracts containing at least five mg of either cannabidiol (CBD) or THC-A and no more than 10mg of THC per dose beginning on July 1, 2020. It also allows up to 25 dispensing locations.
Registration applications for patients, parents/legal guardians, and physicians are available now through the Board of Pharmacy. Cannabis extracts will be produced and sold in Virginia only by specially licensed businesses called “pharmaceutical processors.” The Board of Pharmacy has issued conditional approval to five pharmaceutical processors to produce and dispense these oils. Cannabis extracts are not expected to be available for purchase from processors in Virginia until July 2020.
MPP will continue to monitor the implementation of this law; for our one-page summary, please click here.