On July 1, 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize recreational use Cannabis. A regulatory framework for the sale of the product is underway. The Cannabis Control Authority will finalize regulations, implement a social equity program, and issue business licenses. On January 1, 2024, assuming reenactment by the 2022 General Assembly, legal recreational sales to adults 21+ will begin.
So what’s Legal?
- 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 cannabis in private residences. However, nothing prohibits the owner of a private residence from restricting the use of cannabis 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.
- “Adult sharing” or transferring one ounce or less of cannabis between persons who are 21 years or older without remuneration will be legal. “Adult sharing” does not include instances in which (i) cannabis is given away contemporaneously with another reciprocal transaction between the same parties; (ii) a gift of cannabis is offered or advertised in conjunction with an offer for the sale of goods or services; or (iii) a gift of cannabis is contingent upon a separate reciprocal transaction for goods or services.
What is NOT allowed?
- It will remain illegal for anyone to possess more than one ounce of cannabis. Individuals found guilty of possessing more than one ounce, but not more than one pound of cannabis 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 cannabis, or to attempt to consume, purchase or possess any amount of cannabis.
- It will remain illegal to distribute or sell cannabis, and/or to possess any amount of cannabis 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 cannabis. Currently only sales by medical dispensaries to registered medical cannabis patients are permitted in Virginia.
- Existing safety measures will remain in place, including prohibiting use of cannabis while driving a motor vehicle or while being a passenger in a motor vehicle being driven; possessing cannabis on school grounds, while operating a school bus, in a motor vehicle transporting passengers for hire, or in a commercial vehicle.
- It will remain illegal to consume cannabis or offer cannabis to another person in any public place.
When will recreational sales begin?
It will not be legal to sell cannabis for recreational use before January 1, 2024. The law will create a new, independent political subdivision (“an authority”) to regulate the cannabis industry. While the Cannabis Control Authority can begin its work on July 1, 2021, it will take time for the authority to hire staff, write regulations, and implement equity and safety initiatives. Additionally, many of the regulatory sections of the bill must be reenacted (approved again) by the 2022 General Assembly before becoming law.
Source: “Cannabis.Virginia.gov.” Cannabis in Virginia, 2021, www.cannabis.virginia.gov