Cannabis in Virginia: What you need to know

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Starting Thursday, Virginians can legally grow and possess marijuana.

But the change in law doesn’t exactly open up a pot free-for-all. Legal amounts are limited, and buying and selling marijuana will remain illegal until Jan. 1, 2024, when retail sales are expected to begin. Smoking marijuana in public is still against the law.

Here are some highlights of the new law:


Virginians ages 21 and older may legally possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana “on [their] person or in any public place.” There are some exceptions for public school grounds.

Adults can privately share up to 1 ounce of marijuana, as long as it is given away and not sold.


Marijuana still cannot be used, consumed or shared in public.


Marijuana seeds can’t be legally bought or sold, but they can be shared.

Anyone found guilty of possessing more than 1 ounce of marijuana but not more than 1 pound will be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $25. Anyone convicted of possessing more than 1 pound can be charged with a felony.


Cannabis-related products can’t be legally bought or sold except at dispensaries that are part of the state’s medical marijuana program.

Each household can cultivate up to four cannabis plants — two mature and two immature — as long as they’re grown by adults at their primary residence, for personal use and out of public view. Plants can be grown inside or outside but must be tagged with the grower’s name and driver’s license number and must be not be accessible to anyone younger than 21.


The state law governing possession with intent to distribute remains in place. So although the new law doesn’t specifically address the amount of marijuana an adult can have at home, someone who possesses any amount of pot — at home or otherwise — with signs that they intend to distribute it can be charged.

Marijuana cannot be consumed in a vehicle, either by drivers or passengers, and it may not be transported in vehicles in unsealed or easily accessible containers. Advocates advise keeping it in a locked trunk or rear compartment.


Law enforcement officers can no longer stop or search a person or place based solely on the smell of marijuana.


It’s illegal to use gifts of marijuana as an incentive to sell other products.

It’s illegal to import or transport cannabis across the Virginia state line.

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