Medical Marijuana in Virginia: A Powerful Affirmative Defense to Possession of Marijuana

As you may have heard in the news, Virginia Code Section § 18.2-250.1. “Possession of marijuana unlawful” has seen a number of changes over the past few years.  In February of 2015, Governor McAuliffe signed into law a medical exemption for prescribed cannabis oils, creating an affirmative defense to possess cannabis oils for medical reasons in the Commonwealth – but only in cases of severe epilepsy.  This affirmative defense to § 18.2-250.1 was drastically expanded in March of 2018 when Governor Northam signed the unanimously passed HB1251 into law expanding the affirmative defense for possession of medical cannabis oils to any diagnosed condition with a valid prescription.

Under the current 2018 law, doctors in Virginia can now decide on a case-by-case basis whether the oils are an appropriate treatment for their patients. The oils are limited to those that contain at least 5% CBD or at least 15% THC-A, and may have no more than 5% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This is important as THC is the chemical compound that triggers the reaction in the nervous system that leaves the user feeling “high”.  It is the low amounts of THC that classifies the oils as treatments to illnesses as opposed to illegal recreational drugs.

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana and require representation or believe that this affirmative defense should apply to you – or if you have questions regarding medical marijuana and its legal implications – feel free to contact the experienced attorneys at Winslow & McCurry, PLLC at (804) 423-1382 to discuss the facts of your case.