Marijuana use is increasingly being seen as beneficial in certain circumstances. Many states have legalized the cultivation, sale and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, recreational use of the drug is still illegal in most states, including Virginia. In addition, those who provide marijuana to another person could also be convicted of a drug crime.
With certain exceptions falling under the Drug Control Act, per Virginia Code §18.2-248.1, it is against the law to sell, give or distribute marijuana. In addition, it is illegal to even be in possession of marijuana with the intention to sell it, give it away or distribute it. The penalties associated with this crime depend on how much marijuana is at issue.
If the amount of marijuana at issue is less than 0.05 ounces, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If one has more than 0.05 ounces of marijuana but not over five pounds of marijuana, it is a Class 5 felony. Finally, if a person has over five pounds of marijuana, it is a felony in which a person could be incarcerated for five to 30 years.
As this shows, selling, giving away, distributing or possessing marijuana with the intent to do these things is a serious crime with significant consequences. However, Virginia Code does provide a lesser sentence to the above crimes in very narrow circumstances. If the defendant is able to supply proof that he or she only committed one of the above infractions as an accommodation to the other person, had no intent to receive any consideration or make a profit from the gift, sale or distribution of marijuana and did not expect or induce the other person to become addicted to marijuana, then the crime is only a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Marijuana may not seem like a dangerous drug to many in Virginia. However, selling, giving away or distributing marijuana in Virginia is still against the law in most circumstances. While the penalties vary depending on the amount of marijuana at issue, even a mere misdemeanor can still result in a criminal record, which could lead to difficulties when it comes to finding housing or employment. Fortunately, defenses exist that could lead to a lesser sentence or even being acquitted in the right circumstances.