The marijuana laws in Virginia and across the United States have been changing rapidly. Increasingly, states are allowing people to have marijuana within certain limits and for personal or medicinal use. However, the rules are still in flux and changes can happen without warning.
A recent proposal would make people vulnerable to arrest if they are in public and have more than four ounces of marijuana in their possession. This is part of a new budget plan for the commonwealth. Given the potential for criminal charges, it is important to be aware of this and other laws regarding marijuana. When there is an arrest, having help with crafting a defense is also key.
More than four ounces of marijuana would be a misdemeanor with fines
As part of the budget proposal, people who are caught under this added marijuana law would face a Class 3 misdemeanor. A conviction would result in a fine of as much as $500. This would also be part of their criminal record. If that same person is caught again, it would rise to a Class 2 misdemeanor. This could lead to jail for up to six months and a fine of up to $1,000.
Advocates for marijuana legalization assert that this is a blatant attempt to continue to criminalize possession of small amounts of the substance. It comes on the heels of the legalization – within limits – of marijuana. Under the 2021 law, people could possess up to one ounce if it was for their own use. Anyone who was caught with more than one ounce could be fined $25. It was a civil charge. Those who had more than a pound would be charged with a felony.
Being up to date on new marijuana laws is a crucial part of a criminal defense
Earlier in 2022, there were attempts worsen the penalties for marijuana possession. They failed. This led to accusations that elected officials are trying to find ways to get beyond current law and insert new restrictions on marijuana through the budget.
Although this is not yet law and is still subject to change, it is important for people to be cognizant of possible changes to the law. They might not know how much marijuana constitutes a criminal charge and its level – misdemeanor or felony. Often, those who were under the assumption that they were doing nothing illegal can be arrested and need a comprehensive criminal defense. When dealing with drug charges of any kind, it is important to have professional guidance that is current with all laws. Calling for help is critical from the outset.