With all of the hubbub surrounding the legalization of marijuana in some states and in DC, some people have forgotten what should still be obvious – Marijuana possession and distribution is still a violation of federal and Virginia law. Amazingly, there are some who think that because you can cross the Potomac and get marijuana legally, that you can bring it back into Virginia. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Marijuana Possession in Virginia
Marijuana possession is still criminalized in Virginia. Simple possession is a misdemeanor that can be punished with up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. Second and subsequent convictions are classified as Class One misdemeanors that are punishable by up to a year in jail and up to a $2500 fine. It must be noted that marijuana is still listed as a Schedule One drug that aligns it with other drugs like LSD and ecstasy.
Marijuana Possession Under Federal Law
The federal laws governing marijuana possession are more severe than the state law. A possession conviction under federal law carries a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of $1000. A second conviction carries a mandatory 15-day stay in prison with a maximum of two years and a third or subsequent conviction can result in a 90-day mandatory sentence with a maximum of three years. This is coupled with a fine of up to $5000.
Marijuana Distribution in Virginia
Virginia law breaks marijuana distribution and the punishment therefor down into three classes by amount. They are:
Not more than one-half ounce which is a Class One misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2500.
More than one-half ounce up to five pounds which is a Class Five felony punishable by between one and ten years in jail and a maximum fine of $2500.
More than five pounds is punishable by between five and 30 years in prison.
Virginia gets pretty serious pretty quickly as quantities increase, but it has nothing on the federal system.
Marijuana Distribution Under Federal Law
This is where the severity of the law really ramps up. Distribution or cultivation of up to 50 kilograms of marijuana is punishable under federal law with a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If the range is between 50 and 100 kilograms, the potential punishment rises to a maximum of 20 years in prison and a massive $1,000,000 fine. If you increase that to between 100 and 1000 kilograms, the potential punishment includes a mandatory sentence of five years in prison with a maximum of 40 years. This also comes with a fine of up to $2,000,000. Finally, if the distribution or cultivation gets above 1000 kilograms, the punishment is ten years to life in prison and a fine of up to $4,000,000. Clearly, the federal government does not treat distribution or cultivation of marijuana lightly.
The proliferation of marijuana legalization has got some people believing false information. Your buddies can’t send you on a marijuana run to DC and have you bring it back to Fairfax County without the risk of pretty serious consequences. If you go to DC to party and decide to bring your leftovers back to Virginia, you can get in a lot of trouble. However, if you have made a mistake and you find yourself charged with possession or distribution in Northern Virginia, you need experienced legal help. Jad Sarsour has been defending clients against drug charges for years. Give him a call at (571) 367-7009 today to set up your initial consultation. Put his experience to work building your defense.