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Virginia Reforms Cannabis Laws, Decriminalizes CBD Oil

Virginia Reforms Cannabis Laws
Photo Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now


Virginia Reforms Cannabis Laws, Decriminalizes CBD Oil

A pair of cannabis reforms were just signed into law, bringing a reduction in penalties and an expansion of legal protections for CBD oil producers. These are small steps, but decriminalization activists are confident that momentum is shifting in their direction.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) signed two marijuana reform bills this week, ending the state’s automatic six-month driver’s license suspension for first-time possession offenders and allowing the production of CBD oil.

This may look like a couple drops in a raging storm of national decriminalization, but NORML Executive Director, Erik Altieri, said — considering the state — it’s a huge accomplishment.

“The two measures signed into law in Virginia this week may seem like baby steps, but they are the culmination of years of dedicated advocacy and legislative outreach,” Altieri said.

“While neither of these bills will end the arrest of around 18,000 Virginians a year for marijuana possession or create an ideal, accessible medical marijuana program — they represent important progress in terms of growing legislative support for marijuana law reforms.”

SB 1091

When SB 1091 — which ends Virginia’s automatic ID suspension penalty — goes into effect at the start of July, it will be left at the court’s discretion whether or not to impose this condition as a term of probation, and convicts will still be subject to other conditions under Virginia law, including substance abuse screening, drug testing and community service. Minors are still subject to automatic license suspension under the new law.

For many years Virginia has all but topped the list of places you didn’t want to be caught with marijuana. For East Coasters, it represents the gateway to the south: It’s crazy how good the pot is in Washington D.C., but for god’s sake, stay out of Arlington.

And in recent years Virginia has seen quite the boom in enforcement: according to data collected by the Drug Policy Alliance, marijuana possession arrests increased from 13,032 to in 2003 to 22,948 in 2014 – an increase of 76 percent that was especially pronounced in majority Black neighborhoods.

For context, national marijuana possession arrests decreased by 6.5 percent from 2003 to 2014.

Now that McAuliffe’s put pen to paper, the state should begin to see continued progress in this area, which has already seen some improvement since 2014. This past December, Newport News reported that the number of people arrested or charged with marijuana offences had fallen by 14 percent statewide over a two-year stretch — from 25,981 in 2013 to 22,428 in 2015.

This is a fantastic step in the right direction, but putting real decriminalization laws on the books is the real answer to ending the waste and social destruction of cannabis prohibition. Keeping strict laws on the books but applying lenient, quasi-enforcement standards creates the potential for serious trouble.

Under “selective enforcement,” those who are most affected and targeted by law enforcement now — communities of colors — would continue to carry that burden: in the three years from 2011 to 2013, marijuana possession arrests increased by 1,987 in Virginia — Black people accounted for 82 percent of that increase.

Virginia reforms cannabis laws with SB 1027 – is it enough?

The Marijuana Policy Project referred to SB 1027 as an “extremely narrow law.” It will allow those suffering from intractable epilepsy to access CBD oils produced in-state by Department of Health-approved pharmaceutical companies.

These oils would require a minimum of 15 percent CBD content and a maximum THC content of 5 percent; this would deny patients access to popular 3-1, and 1-1 CBD-to-THC formulations gaining popularity with patients on the west coast and in Colorado.

The Board of Pharmacy has until December 15, 2017, to issue their proposed regulations for governing the program. According to MPP, It will likely take a year or longer for patients to (legally) begin treatment with CBD oils.

The oils will be distributed directly to patients by the producers in up to a one month supply. The producers won’t be required to make anything else or be a certified with the DEA, but they must have a pharmacist running the show at their facility. MPP said there is no indication yet how many licensed facilities will be permitted.

These recent successes have fired up Virginia activists, who continue to work towards full decriminalization and safe access.

In a statement on the new laws, MPP Legislative Counsel, Maggie Ellinger-Locke, gave voice to those aspirations.

“While these two enacted reforms are steps in the right direction, they are far short of the improvements Virginians need,” she said. “A poll released earlier this year found nearly 8 in 10 state residents support replacing marijuana criminal convictions with a fine, and 62 percent favored ending cannabis prohibition altogether.”

Altieri said the shifting tide favors decriminalization.

“These new laws indicate a changing tide in Virginia, and have given us enough momentum that we fully expect to take decriminalization across the finish line in 2018 with significant bi-partisan support,” he said.

TELL US, do you think Virginia is on the path to full decriminalization?



  1. Lou

    May 21, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Is one of many lowedst in saturated fats, ohly eight pwrcent of total oil volume.
    Hemp has bewn found to possess fantastic anti-aging and moisture balancing properties.
    Most people fsel that hemp is the samke thing aas thhe Marijuana that is certainly soked too ave high.

  2. Samy

    December 24, 2017 at 11:54 pm

    I think this would be a good time to look into MJNA and MCOA stock as it this becomes a decriminalization trend nationwide. They will eventually do it some time in our lifetime.

  3. Crystal

    November 1, 2017 at 6:56 am

    Would love any info on the movement in VA!

  4. David Geluz

    October 23, 2017 at 5:21 am

    CBD oil does not get you, “high, drunk, buzzed, or intoxicated”. It does however, relieve PAIN with zero side effects. Thank you for your support. David Geluz

  5. Mary Bryson

    August 16, 2017 at 5:45 am

    This should ABSOLUTELY be fully decriminalized in Virginia! !

  6. Jerrad

    June 3, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    Full decriminalization is widely sought after, and harshly fought against. This is going to be long and hard fight. But what about those of us with health issues that could be alleviated or even cured by CBS, not full on cannabis, just the derived oils without any drug related side effects such as hallucinations, “getting buzzed”, or the like? What harm is there in drawing a line in the sand to allow non-narcotic derivatives of cannabis for people with CBD treatable health concerns? Please feel free to answer if there is one.

    • Delores Avina

      June 14, 2017 at 8:40 pm

      I have been on 3 different pain meds for a while with plenty if side effects.I started using CBD oil for six days I have not used any pain meds since then.I have arthritis and two hip replacements and surgery for a broken Patela from a fall.I was experiencing pain in my right hip.There us a recall on the hip replacements steel on steel.Since the use of the CBD oil I am paib free.

      • Robin Webber

        September 10, 2017 at 9:51 am

        Where do you purchase the CBD in Virginia? I too have arthritis and very bad back pain from a combination of arthritis in the spine and bulging disc. I am trying to not have to get surgery but the pain is real. Someone suggested CBD oil. I do you other essential oils but the relief isn’t as long as I would like and would like to try the CBD oil.

        • tanya griffis

          November 7, 2017 at 9:41 pm

          You can’t just yet and its only legal so far for seizures like mine that none of the pills they’ve thrown at control . There has been ideas proposed to allowing it for other things as well so hopefully va will get wise and do it soon. I keep saying think of the jobs it can create as well as the good the revenue could do say in schools and such .

  7. Shaun Holmes

    April 17, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    So is it something I can buy online legally in Va,

  8. BackWoodz

    April 3, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Great news! I think it is high time Virginia gets on board. Now lets see if we can get cannabis fully decriminalized.

    • Martinwhite757

      November 5, 2017 at 5:17 am

      THC is still a drug and should never be legal. Allowing cbd is great though.

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