On July 1, 2021, Virginia passed two marijuana-related laws: one prohibiting discipline for an employee’s medical use of cannabis oil and the second, a bill that allows those over the age of 21 to lawfully possess recreational marijuana.
This is the result of the call from some state lawmakers over recent years to legalize marijuana for recreational use and to decriminalize the use. Nearly 60 percent of drug arrests in Virginia involved the simple possession of marijuana, with more than half of those arrests for residents under age 24.
The Virginia criminal defense attorneys at Randall Page, P.C. want to make Virginia residents aware of how these new laws will change any potential possession charges and explain how the laws will protect you if you find yourself in either of these situations. Here is what you need to know:
Starting in 2020, Virginia banned employers from requiring job applicants to reveal any past marijuana possession charges in their records. And this year, the law extends even further to prohibit any adverse employment action against an employee’s use of cannabis oil for medical reasons.
This means, if an employee has a valid written prescription for cannabis oil (not medical marijuana) from a doctor, an employer cannot discipline or discriminate against that employee. An employer can, however, take action if this employee shows any work impairment while on the job or if the employee possesses cannabis oil during work hours. There may be more restrictions for federal employees.
Virginia became the first state in the South to legalize recreational marijuana. Adults over the age of 21 can now legally possess one ounce of marijuana. Adults caught with more than an ounce will face a $25 fine. Also, because of this new legislation, all past convictions that fall under this amount will be expunged from the state’s record by no later than July 1, 2025.
One catch is that retail sales of marijuana are illegal until 2024, so Virginians will be limited to either grow marijuana themselves or receive it as a gift from someone who does grow it. Also illegal are consuming marijuana in public, offering it to others in public, or having an “open marijuana container” in the car.
We know it can be intimidating if you have been charged with possession. If you find yourself in a situation where you think you need someone to stand up for your rights with these new marijuana-related laws, the Virginia criminal defense attorneys at Randall Page, P.C. are standing by for you.
There are so many nuances and details woven into this new legislation, and our experienced team will get to work for you right away, sitting down with you to come up with the best defense strategy for you and conducting a thorough investigation to get any charges reduced or dismissed.