Is Recreational Weed Legal in Virginia?

Medically reviewed by Alexander Tabibi, MD
August 18, 2021
Virginia Cannabis Legality
Virginia Cannabis Legality

Recreational, adult-use marijuana was decriminalized in July of 2020, and in June of 2021, it finally became legalized for all Virginia residents 21 or older.  It is legal for adults to purchase, possess, and cultivate marijuana in the VA, no matter if they live in Alexandria or Richmond.


History of Weed Laws

Medical marijuana has been legal in the state of Virginia for some time, but again, it wasn’t until June of 2021 that adult-use recreational marijuana became legalized for all individuals 21 years of age or older.  The law determined that adults could possess up to an ounce of marijuana and can cultivate up to four plants per household.  In July of 2020, the state decriminalized possession of up to an ounce, requiring a $25 fine and not affecting one’s criminal record.


The Old Dominion’s earliest medical marijuana laws were initiated in 1979, stating that a person could not face legal penalty for possession if they were prescribed cannabis for glaucoma or cancer therapy by a doctor. 


In 2017, state lawmakers permitted the cultivation of cannabis, while also allowing dispensaries to sell CBD and THCA to patients suffering from epilepsy.  In 2018, Governor Northam expanded the bill to allow access to medical marijuana for patients whose physicians felt that their conditions could benefit from therapeutic cannabis use.  The next year, the state authorized nurses and physician’s assistants to write certifications for medical patients.


The Cannabis Control Authority is currently working out the details on recreational use, and retailer will be active on July 1 of 2024.  The cannabis industry is currently regulated by the Virginia Board of Pharmacy.


Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in Virginia?

Presently, only medical patients can legally purchase cannabis, and must do so from a state-licensed dispensary.  As of now, they can only purchase CBD, THCA or products containing up to 10 milligrams of THC per serving.  In the next few years, these laws will be expanded to make cannabis generally more accessible to medical patients as well as adult recreational users.  As of now, marijuana flower is illegal in the state.


Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

A person can only consume cannabis on private property, as they can face charges for being caught consuming in public.  It is illegal to consume cannabis flower, even at home.  The state recommends that a patient has their certification on hand to verify that they are authorized to use cannabis for medical purposes, as the state has yet to develop refined laws pertaining to recreational consumption. 


It is illegal to consume cannabis while driving.  Also, driving while impaired can lead to some hefty charges.  It is illegal to have cannabis in an open container in a vehicle unless it is in the trunk of the car. 


Possession Laws

Presently, a person 21 years or older can possess up to an ounce of cannabis at a time without facing legal charges.  However, as the laws are rapidly changing, this may be adjusted in the near future.  Medical patients may only have up to 90 days of a cannabis oil in their possession, as all other cannabis products are currently not permitted.


Can Residents Grow Their Own?

Home cultivation has been legal in Virginia as of July of 2021.  Technically, residents can grow up to 4 plants at home.  However, there’s a catch, because ultimately, buying seeds is illegal in the state.  This legal loophole comes from an inability for lawmakers to iron out the details in time for the passing of the law.  Therefore, in the next couple of years, cultivation should be a less complicated and more accessible option for cannabis enthusiasts in the state.


Medical Marijuana

The medical marijuana program in Virginia recognizes numerous qualifying conditions.  The patient can apply through the Board of Pharmacy’s website.  The state approves doctors who can recommend cannabis, so the patient is required to visit one of these doctors in order to be eligible.  Patients under 18 can apply but require that a parent or legal guardian register the patient as well as themselves.  It costs $50 per year to be in the program, and parents and guardians must pay an additional $25.


Qualifying Conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • ALS
  • Anxiety
  • Autism
  • Cachexia
  • Cancer
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Chronic pain
  • Epilepsy and other seizure disorders
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • Huntington’s disease
  • IBD
  • MS
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • PTSD
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Tourette’s syndrome


Patient Qualifications:

Qualifying for medical marijuana requires a certification from an approved doctor as determined by the state.  The state does provide a list of qualified healthcare providers. 


How to Register for Medical Marijuana in Virginia

To register, you must fill out an application through the Board of Pharmacy’s website and provide the required fee, along with a certification from an approved doctor and a state-issued ID.


Qualifying as a Caregiver

A caregiver in Virginia is also referred to as a registered agent.  A caregiver must be approved by the patient’s healthcare provider.


Registering as a Caregiver

A caregiver must fill out an application form with the Vermont Board of Pharmacy.


Reciprocity Laws

Virginia does not have any form of reciprocity.  This means that out-of-state residents are not permitted to purchase cannabis in the state, even if they have a medical card.


Licensing Laws

Cannabis products are required to undergo third-party testing and be labeled properly.  The testing process looks for cannabinoid profile, terpene profile, potency, heavy metals, microbes, mycotoxins, and pesticides.


Frequently Asked Questions

#1: How Long Has Weed Been Legal in Virginia?

Cannabis has been fully legalized in Virginia since June of 2021, allowing all adults 21 or older to consume and possess cannabis.


#2: Where Can I Buy Marijuana?

Because legalization is so new to the state, you cannot yet find a dispensary that sells cannabis to recreational users.  The laws are still being worked out to determine how to regulate this type of retailer.  Still, medical patients can legally purchase cannabis from a state-licensed dispensary as long as they have their medical card with them.


#3: Can I Have Weed Delivered to My Home?

At the moment, dispensaries can legally deliver cannabis to users’ homes, only if they have a valid medical card.  The state does not yet permit home deliveries to be made to recreational users.


#4: Can I Grow Weed in Virginia?

Technically, home cultivation is legal, but buying seeds is not.  This means that residents can only grow from a clone.  This will change in the near future as the legal loophole is the result of poor timing within legislation.


#5: Can I Buy Weed as an Out-of-State Visitor?

Virginia does not permit residents from out of state to purchase cannabis, even if the person has a medical marijuana card issued by another state.


#6: Can I Buy Flower in Virginia?

Virginia prohibits the consumption and sales of cannabis flower, which is quite unusual as cannabis flower is largely permitted throughout the country in states that have legalized marijuana.  You can only purchase approved products containing 10 milligrams of THC per serving.