growing marijuana in virginia

—Having an open container of marijuana in a vehicle while it is being operated.

—Smoking of marijuana in public.

— Possession of up to one ounce of marijuana (28.3 grams) by adults, 21 and older, without intent to distribute.

State officials are beginning the process of setting up a new state entity to develop regulations for a legal marijuana marketplace expected to open on Jan. 1, 2024.

Virginia is joining 17 other states with laws allowing adults to possess and consume marijuana. Under the new law that goes into effect Thursday, adults 21 and older may legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and can grow up to four plants per household. But buying or selling marijuana will still be illegal, other than under the state’s medical marijuana program.

—Beginning Thursday, records of misdemeanor possession with intent to distribute marijuana arrests, charges and convictions will be automatically sealed from public view in the Virginia State Police systems. By July 1, 2025, after several state entities update their record-keeping systems, records of arrests, charges and convictions for simple possession or misdemeanor possession with the intent to distribute will be automatically sealed across all state and private databases. People will also be able to petition a court to seal all other marijuana-related misdemeanors and most felonies.

—Possession of marijuana on school grounds or school buses.

—Sharing of up to one ounce in private, by adults, but no payment or other financial compensation is allowed.

—Sharing or offering marijuana in public.

—Buying or selling cannabis seeds or cannabis products.

WHAT COMES NEXT:

—Possession of more than an ounce but less than a pound will be subject to a $25 fine. Possession of more than a pound remains a felony.

—A new state entity — the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority — will be established to write regulations for and oversee the cultivation, manufacture and retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products. It will have a chief executive officer, a five-member board of directors, a still-undetermined number of employees and a 21-member advisory council to monitor public health issues and make recommendations on retail marijuana.

WHAT’S LEGAL AS OF THURSDAY:

—Cultivation of up to four marijuana plants per household by adults for personal use. Plants can be grown indoors or outdoors, but must be at a primary residence and cannot be visible from a public street. Each plant must be labelled with the owner’s name and driver’s license or state identification number. Owners must prevent access to the plants by people under 21.

__Many provisions of the bill dealing with the regulatory framework will have to be reapproved by lawmakers next year. The possession and cultivation provisions will not need a second vote.

—Possession or use of marijuana by anyone under the age of 21.

—Consumption of marijuana by drivers or passengers in a motor vehicle while being driven.

—Marijuana gifting schemes, for example, giving away marijuana with the purchase of another item.

WHAT’S STILL ILLEGAL:

—Buying or selling marijuana, other than under the medical marijuana program.

Here’s a breakdown of what will become legal and what will remain illegal:

—The law will also establish the Cannabis Equity Reinvestment Fund, where 30% of tax profits from marijuana sales will go to be used to address the impact of disparate enforcement of drug laws on families and communities, including by providing scholarships and grants to support workforce development, youth mentoring programs, job training and placement efforts, and reentry services.

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Adult recreational use of marijuana will become legal in Virginia this week, but the commercial production and sale of marijuana is still almost three years away.

—The law creates a Business Equity & Diversity Support Team at the authority to do outreach to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana prohibition. The team will also create a program to provide loans to qualified social equity cannabis license applicants to promote business ownership and economic growth by disproportionately impacted communities.

—Retail sales to adults are currently expected to begin on Jan. 1, 2024, if the legislature reapproves the law in 2022.

“You have to have control over heat and humidity, especially in Virginia,” Anderson said. “If you’re comfortable in an environment as a human, the plants are going to be comfortable as well.”

Adults ages 21 and older are allowed to grow up to four cannabis plants per household, not per person.

“Depending on your grow style and how you’re growing, it’s not uncommon to get a pound a plant,” Anderson said.

“Those dynamics have created essentially a vacuum. It will drive people who wish to possess marijuana to street level drug dealers,” Katz said.

At the time, lawmakers were under pressure to move up the legalization of simple possession to this summer. To win over critics, supporters were looking for a way to allow the public to safely obtain marijuana before recreational sales go live, something that’s not expected to happen until 2024.

“People have to read the fine print”

The gray area is a product of the accelerated timeline proposed by Gov. Ralph Northam’s office at the end of a lengthy legislative process.

Netzel started using cannabis after her prescribed medication for Multiple Sclerosis made her liver go into failure. For months after that, she suffered from chronic pain and became depressed.

“You have to be careful when you’re ingesting it to make sure it doesn’t have mold on it. That can make you really sick,” Anderson said.

In the 2022 session, Pedini wants lawmakers to create a legal avenue at the state level.

That’s an area the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) has asked lawmakers to clarify in the future.

“People have to read the fine print. We’re going to do our best to educate people but we’re not going to not enforce the law,” Katz said.

“It can burn down houses and apartment buildings, between the lights and dehumidifiers needed to run all of this, it pulls a lot of power,” Anderson said. “That’s I think another reason the state of Virginia didn’t go huge. Four plants is plenty. It makes it so people can do it safely.”

Happy Trees Agricultural Supply in Richmond is stocking up on lights, soil and nutrients to help Virginians start growing their own marijuana.

“There was no appetite from some to allow dispensaries to do that because the rationale is they didn’t want them to have a leg up on the business of recreational marijuana,” Herring said. “Honestly, I lost on that one.”

While Virginians are allowed to possess up to an ounce of marijuana in public, Anderson said lawmakers set no clear limits on how much pot can be kept in a private residence.

“Everything you need…except the seeds”

“We have everything you need, except the seeds, to grow your four plants,” said Happy Trees Co-Founder Josiah Ickes. “We’re expecting a huge boom in sales.”

Tamara Netzel, a medical marijuana patient and the founder of Cruel Consequences, said trying to navigate the new law has been a challenge.

Another concern for Katz is preventing a boom in illegal sales while people are in the process of growing, since recreational stores can’t open yet.

Now, the law has changed and Netzel is among those hoping to grow at home as a cheaper alternative. Currently, she said she pays about $800 per month to use cannabis for her condition, not including the cost of periodically renewing her medical card recommendation.

“I’m the last person you would’ve thought would’ve tried cannabis but I was desperate.” Netzel said. “It was a choice I had to make and at that time I was like, I don’t want to break the law so I sought out people who wanted to change the law.”

While he can’t speak for all departments, Katz said, in Chesterfield, police are not going to be asking where people got their seeds.

“Right now, you can have three plants and be in compliance and also have 300 pounds of marijuana in your house and, under Virginia law, you’re solid,” Katz said.

How to get from seed to smoke.

“I think it’s natural with legislation, especially big changes, to have to come back and fix things,” said Herring. “Again, it’s a breathing, living document and if there are changes that are needed, we will make those changes.”

While Virginians can legally grow outdoors if they follow state regulations, Anderson recommends growing indoors.

Chesterfield Police Chief Jeffrey Katz, who was speaking on behalf of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said there are several regulations people need to follow to stay out of trouble.

Katz said, in general, enforcement of home cultivation regulations will likely stem from complaints.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)- Starting July 1, Virginians will be able to legally grow up to four marijuana plants per household.

But there’s a catch. There’s no legal way to buy the seeds.

Anderson said four plants, if grown properly, can produce a years-worth of marijuana.

“It’s very frustrating that we don’t have a direct legal path to acquiring seeds,” Ickes said. “That is going to lead people down the road of finding seeds that are not legal and there may not be a safe way to do that.”

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision c of § 18.2-248.1, a person 21 years of age or older may cultivate up to four marijuana plants for personal use at their place of residence; however, at no point shall a household contain more than four marijuana plants. For purposes of this section, a “household” means those individuals, whether related or not, who live in the same house or other place of residence.

B. A person who cultivates marijuana for personal use pursuant to this section shall:

A person may only cultivate marijuana plants pursuant to this section at such person’s main place of residence.

§ 4.1-1101. Home cultivation of marijuana for personal use; penalties.

1. Ensure that no marijuana plant is visible from a public way without the use of aircraft, binoculars, or other optical aids;

C. A person shall not manufacture marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana. The owner of a property or parcel or tract of land may not intentionally or knowingly allow another person to manufacture marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana within or on that property or land.

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2. For possession of more than 10 but no more than 49 marijuana plants, a Class 1 misdemeanor;

4. For possession of more than 100 marijuana plants, a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years and a fine of not more than $250,000, or both.

3. Attach to each marijuana plant a legible tag that includes the person’s name, driver’s license or identification number, and a notation that the marijuana plant is being grown for personal use as authorized under this section.

2021, Sp. Sess. I, cc. 550, 551.

D. The following penalties or punishments shall be imposed on any person convicted of a violation of this section:

1. For possession of more than four marijuana plants but no more than 10 marijuana plants, (i) a civil penalty of $250 for a first offense, (ii) a Class 3 misdemeanor for a second offense, and (iii) a Class 2 misdemeanor for a third and any subsequent offense;

2. Take precautions to prevent unauthorized access by persons younger than 21 years of age; and.

3. For possession of more than 49 but no more than 100 marijuana plants, a Class 6 felony; and.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.