Virginia is now the first southern state to legalize recreational marijuana use, as of summer, 2021. In short, the new law legalizes pot, but it comes with some serious caveats. Rebecca Wade, partner at Wade, Grimes, Friedman, Meinken & Leischner, explains the “do’s” and “don’ts” of navigating marijuana use in Virginia.

Is It Legal to Smoke Marijuana in Virginia? 

The new law allows Virginians to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for recreational use. The law also allows for the growth of up to four marijuana plants, as long as they are not within eyeshot of the public or are able to be accessed by anyone underage. 

In addition, up to one ounce of marijuana can be gifted as long as there is no monetary compensation. You can’t sell it to friends, but you can give it to them. 

Is It Legal to Smoke Pot in Public in Virginia?

The use of marijuana in public is also illegal and can qualify as a Class 4 misdemeanor. While this is the lowest level criminal offense in the state, fines can reach up to $250. 

Wade emphasizes the importance of using marijuana in private. While a car may seem like a private place, possession of marijuana in a motor vehicle can lead to legal issues. Drivers should ensure that marijuana is not within reach of the driver or any passengers. According to Wade, traveling with marijuana in your trunk is your best bet for avoiding a potential charge.

Can I Travel with Marijuana Across State Lines? 

Wade also warns D-M-V residents to be especially aware of their surroundings. According to Wade, “In ten minutes, you can be in three different jurisdictions (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia). Each jurisdiction has its own laws, not to mention federal property, like the National Mall or the George Washington Parkway” 

Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, so it is crucial to remain aware and careful when crossing state and district lines, Wade reminds. “It is important to always know where you are and to make sure you’re in compliance with the law of the place that you’re in.” 

Wade advises those traveling with marijuana to be very careful and avoid traveling over state lines, as this could lead to drug trafficking charges. 

When to Contact an Attorney

For more information on the changes to marijuana laws in Virginia, please contact Rebecca Wade.

About the Author

This is a photo of Rebecca Wade. She is a family law and criminal defense attorney at Old Town Lawyers.

Rebecca Janet Wade

Rebecca Wade is a partner at Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC, practicing in all areas of family law and criminal law having experience with protective orders, divorce, child custody and visitation, child protective services investigations, juvenile delinquency, and criminal charges.

Wade has been named a 2023 Best Lawyer in America by U.S. News & World Report, a 2023 Super Lawyer in Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., and a 2020-2021 Top Lawyer by Northern Virginia Magazine.

Whether you are facing a family law, protective order, estate planning, bankruptcy and/or criminal-law-related issue, Wade Grimes Friedman Meinken & Leischner PLLC is here for you during challenging times.

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