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Virginia’s Marijuana Laws: What’s the Difference Between Possession and Sale?

States across the country are considering decriminalizing marijuana for medical and recreational use, but possession of pot is still illegal in Virginia. Plus, there are additional penalties that apply if you’re charged with selling marijuana, sometimes termed “drug trafficking.” The difference between the two depends on the circumstances, and it will determine whether you’re looking at a felony or misdemeanor for a drug crime conviction in Virginia.

Possession of Marijuana Under Virginia Law

Unlike other states that have decriminalized smaller amounts of pot, it is illegal to be in possession of any amount of marijuana in Virginia. There is an exception if you have a valid prescription from a doctor, under certain circumstances.

  • Criminal Penalties: A first offense for possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor, which carries a potential jail sentence up to 30 days, a fine up to $500, or both. Any subsequent offense is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor. This most-serious degree of misdemeanor means you’re facing up to 12 months in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both.

Selling Marijuana in Virginia

Trafficking in marijuana is considered a more serious crime because it results in other people breaking the law of marijuana possession. It is illegal to sell or distribute any amount of marijuana, regardless of whether money or other value is given in exchange.

  • Criminal Penalties: The criminal consequences of selling marijuana vary depending on the amount involved when you’re charged with trafficking.
    • An amount less than one-half ounce of pot results in a Class 1 misdemeanor, with the punishments as mentioned above;
    • If you have more than a half ounce but less than five pounds, you may be charged with a Class 5 felony. The penalties include a mandatory minimum jail sentence of a year, and a maximum fine of $2,500, or both; and,
    • An amount over five pounds of marijuana can result in a sentence of 5-30 years.

Selling within 1,000 feet of a school or directly to a minor carries more severe penalties.

Consult with a Virginia Drug Crimes Lawyer

Even if this description of the difference between marijuana possession and selling helps you understand Virginia law, you’re at a disadvantage if you don’t have a qualified criminal defense attorney to represent you in court. The experienced attorneys at Shannon & Associates, P.C. have fought drug crimes cases for many clients, so please contact or call us at (757) 228-5529 to discuss your case.

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