Know The Law

Virginia is for (cannabis) lovers!


We hope you were able to score some seeds today! We know many of you were unable to because there was such a huge demand across the entire state. We estimate that VAMJ volunteers gave away about 20,000 seeds today. We hope to do this again in the future, so please get involved with Virginia Marijuana Justice!

Time to germinate those cannabis seeds!

Germinated Cannabis Seeds!


Now that (most) of you have cannabis seeds, you might want to know what to do next. Maryland Marijuana Justice co-founder, Kris Furnish, made a short video to help. Click here to watch the video on Facebook.

View of the line in Virginia!

View of the line outside the Rosslyn Metro Station


We want everyone who is growing their cannabis to do so without fear of arrest or prosecution. The best way to do this is to know the law.  There are already a few FAQs available online.

The state of Virginia doesn’t make it easy to find the actual text of the law that was passed. They would rather you read summaries on their website than actually know what the law says. If you haven’t yet, we recommend downloading the PDF of the law for your own personal records.

Thankfully the home cultivation section is pretty short (see below) and you don’t need to be a lawyer to understand it.  The rest of the cannabis law deals with the business side and what you can and cannot do with your legal cannabis. These sections are all important if you plan on opening a licensed business in Virginia.

Right now, only New York legally allows public consumption of cannabis, everywhere else, including Virginia, cannabis can only be consumed at a private residence. We believe that the police are going to continue to enforce cannabis laws where they can, so don’t consume cannabis in your car, at a bar, on the sidewalk, or at a park, only at a home.

Public consumption is the easiest way to get in trouble with the law now that cannabis is legal. Worse, a bag of cannabis in your pocket can be construed as an “open container,” so it’s best to keep your cannabis in the trunk of the car when bringing your home grown cannabis to a friend’s place.

Here’s the Home Cultivation Law Summarized:

  1. When you start your home grow on July 1, you can only germinate 4 seeds. You might have 2 extra. Those are in case a seed or two does not germinate. You can only grow your cannabis at your primary residence. Meaning, you can’t grow 4 plants at one house and another 4 plants at another house you own. [See section 4.1-1101(A)]
  2. You need to keep your outdoor plants out of sight from the public. So don’t grow it in your front yard next to your rose bushes. You also need to take precautions so that someone under 21 years of age cannot access the plant. We recommend a locked fence if grown outdoors or a locked door if grown indoors.   [See sections  4.1-1101(B)(1) & 4.1-1101(B)(2)]
  3. You need to label your plant with your NAME, DRIVER’S LICENSE / ID NUMBER, and include a stupid statement “This marijuana plant is being grown for personal use as authorized by Section 4.1-1101” … You can make up your own statement like “This marijuana plant is being grown for personal use as authorized by Section 4.1-1101 because the state of Virginia is afraid of us growing too many cannabis plants and taking away their precious tax revenue.” Free speech that complies with the law! [See section 4.1-1101(B)(3)]
  4. Don’t make concentrates with your 4 plants. Even if you were to attempt to make concentrates with 4 plants, you won’t end up with much, so don’t waste your time. Virginia doesn’t allow distilling hard liquor at home, why should do you think the state would allow concentrating cannabis? Don’t be the fool who blows up their house. [See section 4.1-1101(C)]  NOTE #1: On page 124 the law says, “Marijuana concentrate” is defined as marijuana that has undergone a process to concentrate one or more active cannabinoids, thereby increasing the product’s potency. Resin from granular trichomes from a marijuana plant is a concentrate for purposes of this subtitle.” NOTE #2: And on Page 161, there is a separate part about making concentrates, which says “No person shall separate plant resin by butane extraction or another method that utilizes a substance with a flashpoint below 100 degrees Fahrenheit in any public place, motor vehicle, or within the curtilage of any residential structure.”
  5. If you grow more than 4 plants, but less than a total of 10 total plants, you run the risk of a $250 fine and each time you get busted for this the penalty goes up. If you grow more than 10 but less than 50 plants, you risk a Class 1 misdemeanor (Penalty: up to twelve months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500, or both). If you grow between 50 and less than 100, you risk a Class 6 felony (Penalty: up to 5 years in jail and up to $2,500 fine, or both). If you grow 100 or more plants, you can be found guilty of a felony (Up to 10 years in jail and up to $250,000 fine, or both). [See section 4.1-1101(D)(1 to 4)]

THAT’S IT! Germinate 4 seedlings, tag them, grow them out of sight and away from folks under 21 years of age, don’t make concentrates, and don’t grow too many plants.

Tagging them when the seeds are in the soil can be done by writing the information on a post-it note and taping on the vessel the seed is growing. When they get large enough, you should tag the stalk of the plant.

ARE YOU A RENTER?  – If you are a renter, your landlord can add an addendum to you lease prohibiting you from being able to grow cannabis. It’s their rental unit and they can call the shots. Lease says no pets? It’s the same logic. Read your lease thoroughly before you sign it, because there might be a stipulation that prevents you from growing cannabis.


§ 4.1-1101. Home cultivation of marijuana for personal use; penalties.

A. Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivision c of §18.2-248.1, a person 21 years of age or older may cultivate up to four marijuana plants for personal use at their place of residence; however, at no point shall a household contain more than four marijuana plants. For purposes of this section, a “household” means those individuals, whether related or not, who live in the same house or other place of residence. A person may only cultivate marijuana plants pursuant to this section at such person’s main place of residence.

B. A person who cultivates marijuana for personal use pursuant to this section shall:

1. Ensure that no marijuana plant is visible from a public way without the use of aircraft, binoculars, or other optical aids;
2. Take precautions to prevent unauthorized access by persons younger than 21 years of age; and
3. Attach to each marijuana plant a legible tag that includes the person’s name, driver’s license or identification number, and a notation that the marijuana plant is being grown for personal use as authorized under this section.

C. A person shall not manufacture marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana. The owner of a property or parcel or tract of land may not intentionally or knowingly allow another person to manufacture marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana within or on that property or land.

D. The following penalties or punishments shall be imposed on any person convicted of a violation of this section:

1. For possession of more than four marijuana plants but no more than 10 marijuana plants, (i) a civil penalty of $250 for a first offense, (ii) a Class 3 misdemeanor for a second offense, and (iii) a Class 2 misdemeanor for a third and any subsequent offense;
2. For possession of more than 10 but no more than 49 marijuana plants, a Class 1 misdemeanor;
3. For possession of more than 49 but no more than 100 marijuana plants, a Class 6 felony; and
4. For possession of more than 100 marijuana plants, a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not
less than one year nor more than 10 years and a fine of not more than $250,000, or both.


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You can give up to an ounce of cannabis (including seeds!) to other adults but you CANNOT make a transaction. This portion of the law aimed to close the “gifting loophole” in Washington, DC’s Initiative 71.

Our read on the law is that as long as the cannabis weighs under an ounce, you can give it away to another adult. This means you can give one cutting, under an ounce in weight, to a friend to grow their own plant. We recommend doing this after the sex is ascertained.

More importantly, sequester any newly obtained cannabis cuttings or seedlings for at least two weeks before adding it to the rest of your plants. There may be bugs or pathogens on the new plant, which can damage your other plants. After two weeks, you should know if the new plant is okay.


§ 4.1-1101.1. Adult sharing of marijuana.

A. For the purposes of this section, “adult sharing” means transferring marijuana between persons who are 21 years of age or older without remuneration. “Adult sharing” does not include instances in which (i) marijuana is given away contemporaneously with another reciprocal transaction between the same parties; (ii) a gift of marijuana is offered or advertised in conjunction with an offer for the sale of goods or services; or (iii) a gift of marijuana is contingent upon a separate reciprocal transaction for goods or services.

B. Notwithstanding the provisions of §18.2-248.1, no civil or criminal penalty may be imposed for adult sharing of an amount of marijuana that does not exceed one ounce or of an equivalent amount of marijuana products.

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Sharing is caring!


You can’t drive around with an open container of beer nor can you drive around with a baggie of cannabis. Granted its a lot easier to drink a beer while driving than it is to consume buds in a baggie, but the law’s intent is clear: they don’t want people driving around consuming cannabis.

We suggest keeping cannabis in your trunk when driving. Will everyone remember to put their cannabis in their trunk? No. Can we not give cops a reason to pull us over? Sorta. Unfortunately, Driving While Black is still well and alive in Virginia and legalization will not end this overnight. We need to work to end racial profiling and knowing the law is the first step.

However, having clouds of smoke coming out of your car might give the law enforcement officer probable cause. And while smell alone of cannabis is not probable cause, clouds of smoke or a lit “marijuana cigarette” might give them reason to pull you over. Just don’t smoke in your car and if you want to be extra safe, keep your baggie or jar of cannabis in the trunk.


§ 4.1-1107. Using or consuming marijuana or marijuana products while in a motor vehicle being driven upon a public highway; penalty.

A. For the purposes of this section:

“Open container” means any vessel containing marijuana or marijuana products, except the originally sealed manufacturer’s container.

“Passenger area” means the area designed to seat the driver of any motor vehicle, any area within the reach of the driver, including an unlocked glove compartment, and the area designed to seat passengers. “Passenger area” does not include the trunk of any passenger vehicle; the area behind the last upright seat of a passenger van, station wagon, hatchback, sport utility vehicle or any similar vehicle; the living quarters of a motor home; or the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained, or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, including a bus, taxi, or limousine, while engaged in the transportation of such persons.

B. It is unlawful for any person to use or consume marijuana or marijuana products while driving a motor vehicle upon a public highway of the Commonwealth or while being a passenger in a motor vehicle being driven upon a public highway of the Commonwealth.

C. A judge or jury may make a permissive inference that a person has consumed marijuana or marijuana products in violation of this section if (i) an open container is located within the passenger area of the motor vehicle, (ii) the marijuana or marijuana products in the open container have been at least partially removed and (iii) the appearance, conduct, speech, or other physical characteristic of such person, excluding odor, is consistent with the consumption of marijuana or marijuana products. Such person may be prosecuted either in the county or city in which the marijuana was used or consumed, or in the county or city in which the person exhibits evidence of physical indicia of use or consumption of marijuana.

D. Any person who violates this section is guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

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Don't get busted for an open container


Imagine for a second… You just got done curing your cannabis and you decide to bag is all up, and you are walking down the street with 6 ounces (which is 5 ounces more than you can legally possess!) of the dankest homegrown cannabis in your backpack and an officer smells it, detains you, asks you to open your backpack up, and sees the giant bag of cannabis, and proceeds to arrest you, the police officer will have violated the law and the case will be thrown out. Under the new law, the smell alone of cannabis is not probable cause for an officer to search you.

If you are driving in your car and an officer sees a joint being smoked, and you have 2 ounces of cannabis in your glove box, you can get busted for public consumption AND an open container. Be smart! Don’t give the police a reason to investigate your activities.


§ 4.1-1302. Search without warrant; odor of marijuana.

A. No law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, may lawfully stop, search, or seize any person, place, or thing and no search warrant may be issued solely on the basis of the odor of marijuana and no evidence discovered or obtained pursuant to a violation of this subsection, including evidence discovered or obtained with the person’s consent, shall be admissible in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding.

B. The provisions of subsection A shall not apply in any airport as defined in § 5.1-1 or if the violation occurs in a commercial motor vehicle as defined in § 46.2-341.4.

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Smell alone is not justification for a search


If you are 21 years of age or older, you can possess up to an ounce of cannabis in Virginia. If have more than an ounce, but under a pound, it’s a $25 fine. But if you have a pound or more, you are looking at a felony. BAD!  We suggest buying a scale. You will know what your cannabis weight is quite easily and save yourself between $25 and $250,000 in fines.


§ 4.1-1100. Possession, etc., of marijuana and marijuana products by persons 21 years of age or older lawful; penalties.

A. Except as otherwise provided in this subtitle and notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person 21 years of age or older may lawfully possess on his person or in any public place not more than one ounce of marijuana or an equivalent amount of marijuana product as determined by regulation promulgated by the Board.

B. Any person who possesses on his person or in any public place marijuana or marijuana products in excess of the amounts set forth in subsection A is subject to a civil penalty of no more than $25. The penalty for any violations of this section by an adult shall be prepayable according to the procedures in § 16.1-69.40:2.

C. With the exception of a licensee in the course of his duties related to such licensee’s marijuana establishment, any person who possesses on his person or in any public place more than one pound of marijuana or an equivalent amount of marijuana product as determined by regulation promulgated by the Board is guilty of a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one year nor more than 10 years and a fine of not more than $250,000, or both.

D. The provisions of this section shall not apply to members of federal, state, county, city, or town law- enforcement agencies, jail officers, or correctional officers, as defined in § 53.1-1, certified as handlers of dogs trained in the detection of controlled substances when possession of marijuana is necessary for the performance of their duties.

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You can possess up to an ounce. Don't get caught with more than a pound!

There is quite a bit more in the law, but these sections are the ones we thought were important to know on Day 1 of legal cannabis in Virginia. Again, we suggest downloading the PDF of the law and making yourself familiar with it. You don’t need to be a lawyer to read laws, but you will need one if you get arrested. Knowledge is power!

Virginia Cannabis Laws Have Changed

Virginia will allow for legal home cultivation, adult consumption and possession as of July 1, 2021. But these new laws don’t mean full on marijuana freedom. Let’s review what these changes mean and how to avoid getting caught up in illegal use.

What can you do?

In July of 2020, cannabis was decriminalized in the state of Virginia. This means that you will no longer be jailed or charged with a felony if you are caught possessing marijuana.

With the new law passed for this year, on July 1, 2021 it will be legal for adults to use, possess and cultivate marijuana legally.

Here is what you CAN do:

  • You can grow your own Cannabis at home, i.e. “home cultivation” Hooray, for cannabis freedom! Here’s the home-grow breakdown.

    • A maximum number of 4 plants can be grown per household. Note the number of adults in your home is irrelevant. So, don’t look for 5 new roommates to up your plant allowance, it won’t help you here.

    • Your plants must be tagged with three different points of information; 1. your Driver’s License number, 2. Your full name, and 3. a notation that the plant will be used for  “personal use”

    • Plants must be out of public view.

    • Plants must not be accessible to minor children. Currently there are no guidelines on how you should establish separation from minor access.

  • You can consume cannabis privately at home. There is no public consumption permitted in the state of Virginia.

  • You can possess up to one ounce of cannabis outside of your home without penalty. But it must be concealed at all times in a bag or pocket. And of course kept out of view or reach of children.

  • You can gift up to one ounce of Marijuana, without exchange. It is important to know this allowance is completely different from the laws in DC. You are not permitted to gift an item in exchange for money and use marijuana as the bonus gift. Given that our border to the north is shared with DC, they’ve made sure to nix the gifting option in this manner.


Now let’s talk about the things to be cautious of, or avoid completely. While marijuana laws are changing, we must be mindful that there are many holes in the new laws that can leave you in a grey area.

  • It is still illegal to buy seeds or clones since the sale of these has not been explicitly detailed and it is illegal to bring cannabis across state lines.

  • It is illegal to transport marijuana across state lines. Yes, even to legal districts and states like DC and Maryland.

  • Never use Cannabis while in a vehicle. Whether you are the driver or the passenger this is a No. This is viewed as a misdemeanor and will not be treated lightly. Furthermore, your vehicle can be seized in Civil proceeding regardless of what you are charged with.

  • Do not offer your cannabis to anyone in public, it is illegal regardless of whether or not they accept.

  • If you are going to travel with cannabis in your car, keep it out of reach and in a sealed container. The best practice here is to seal it up tight and keep it in your trunk.

Currently the only legal way to purchase cannabis is at a one of four medical dispensaries and you must hold a medical marijuana card. Without further change or elaboration on certain laws there is not a legal way to purchase seeds or clones in the state of Virginia. Our new laws allow for legal adult consumption, possession and home cultivation; but without the ability to lawfully purchase seeds or starter plants this leaves much in the legal grey area.

(Written by Sarah Keeney)