Legalization of Marijuana

As of July 1, 2021, adults in Virginia who are 21 and older will be allowed to possess a small amount of recreational marijuana, or cannabis, and to cultivate a small number of marijuana plants in their home. The Virginia General Assembly approved a bill (PDF) in February 2021, which was signed into law by the governor in April 2021, that legalizes adult possession of up to one ounce of marijuana. The measure also provides for the sale of recreational marijuana, but retail sales are not scheduled to begin until 2024. Some portions of the new law regarding criminal penalties and retail sales will have to be reenacted by the General Assembly in 2022 before they can be implemented. 

What is Legal Under the New Law?

  • Adults 21 and older may possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
  • Adults 21 and older can smoke marijuana privately in their homes. 
  • Adults 21 and older can grow up to four plants in their homes. The plants cannot be seen from the street and cannot be accessible to anyone under the age of 21. The plants must include a legible tag that includes your name, driver's license or ID number, and a notation that the marijuana plant is being grown for personal use as authorized by law.
  • Up to one ounce of marijuana may be shared with another adult who is 21 or older, provided there is no remuneration or exchange of money or anything of value. 

What is Illegal Under the New Law?

  • It remains illegal for anyone to possess more than one ounce of marijuana.
  • It remains illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to consume, purchase or possess marijuana.
  • It remains illegal to distribute or sell marijuana and/or to possess any amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute or sell it.
  • Smoking marijuana in public, including in a vehicle, while driving, and while being a passenger in a vehicle.  
  • Driving with an “open container” of marijuana. An open container is defined under the law as "any vessel containing marijuana or marijuana products, except the originally sealed manufacturer’s container.” 
  • Possessing marijuana on the grounds of a public school.
  • Manufacturing marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana.
  • Selling recreational marijuana. (Sales of recreational marijuana are scheduled to become legalized in Virginia in 2024.)

Enforcement

  • Local law enforcement, such as the Loudoun County Sheriff's Office or Town Police, are responsible for enforcing the relevant changes in the Code of Virginia.
  • The Cannabis Control Authority is responsible for enforcing licensure (beginning in 2023) and retail sales (beginning in 2024.)

Penalties

  • Possessing more than an ounce but less than a pound of marijuana may be subject to a civil penalty of up to $25. 
  • Possessing more than a pound of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.
  • Penalties for possessing more than four plants are set based on the number of plants.
  • Possession of marijuana on school grounds is a criminal misdemeanor.
  • Note: Anyone younger than 21 who is found to possess marijuana may face a civil penalty of up to $25 and be required to enter a substance abuse treatment or education program.

Get More Information About Cannabis in Virginia

For more information about legal cannabis in Virginia, visit the state’s website at cannabis.virginia.gov: