Though marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law, Virginia does not classify it as a scheduled drug and has different statutes to handle marijuana cases. In Virginia, the sale, distribution, and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana are all charged under one statute, VA Code Section 18.2-248.1.
Typically, the penalties for distribution of marijuana offenses depend on the weight in question.
- If you’ve been charged with distribution of marijuana not in excess of one half ounce, you’ve been charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. If you’re convicted, you could receive up to 12 months jail time and a fine of up to $2,500.
- If the quantity is between one half ounce and five pounds of marijuana, you’ve been charged with a Class 5 felony. If convicted, you could face one to 10 years of prison time or jail time for up to one year, along with a fine of up to $2,500.
- If the quantity of marijuana exceeds five pounds, you’ve been charged with a felony that, if convicted, would be punishable with five (5) to 30 years in prison.
Distributing marijuana without the intent to profit is considered “gifting,” and it’s also charged under this code section. For example, if you gave marijuana to a friend, you could be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. If that friend is an inmate at a state or local correctional facility, you would be charged with a Class 4 felony.
Distributing marijuana to a minor carries additional penalties if convicted, including 10 to 50 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Along with the above penalties, any marijuana-related conviction leads to a driver’s license suspension for six months. In some cases, a defense attorney can help negotiate for restricted driving privileges that would allow you to drive to work, school, and probation.
Defense of Distribution Offenses
In order for you to be convicted of sale, distribution, and possession with the intent to distribute marijuana in Virginia, the State has to prove two things:
- That you intended to distribute marijuana.
- That the weight of the drug met the charge brought against you.
The prosecution might try to use the following to prove that you intended to distribute:
- The quantity or weight of marijuana exceeded what a person would normally possess for personal use.
- You were not found with any marijuana paraphernalia usually associated with personal use (e.g. pipes, bongs, joint papers) and/or you were found with paraphernalia commonly associated with distribution (e.g. scales, baggies, razors).
- You had a large amount of cash with you.
- The marijuana was individually wrapped or packaged.
The Commonwealth might bring in a narcotics expert or similar expert witness to explain any of the above in detail.
An experienced Roanoke criminal defense attorney can build a strong defense strategy that fits your unique situation, and in some cases, evidence can be dismissed if it was obtained unlawfully – particularly if your rights were violated with respect to search and seizure. Law enforcement officers frequently entrap people in drug cases, so we can explore whether entrapment is an appropriate defense for your situation.
Facing marijuana charges in Virginia?
If you’ve been charged with a possession of marijuana crime in Virginia, the experienced Virginia drug attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our Roanoke office, call us at .