July 1st is here, so all you heads think you can rest easy, keep an ounce or so around the house, and start growing your four plants. However, here are some things to think about moving forward with marijuana.
If you want weed, you have to either grow it yourself at your house, or get it as a “gift” from someone who grows it. If you have a medical marijuana card, you can get it through a prescription from dispensaries.
But I can grow it, right? Adults 21 and over “may cultivate up to four marijuana plants for personal use at their place of residence,” the new law says. The four-plant limit is “per household” so you and your five roomies can’t start a farm in your house. You can also get hammered if someone younger than 21 gets into your stash.
Also, the plant must be “tagged” with the grower’s name, driver’s license number and a notation that it’s being grown for personal use. And keep them away from windows…plants cannot be visible to the public.
Misdemeanor charges begin after you have 10 plants, and felony charges begin if you have more than 50 in your pot garden.
You cannot sell it either. You can “share” your weed with someone 21 and over as “a gift.” If you get caught selling it, the first offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and a Class 1 on the second offense, which can lead to 1 year in the joint.
Anyone who gives pot to a minor is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Where do I get seeds to grow my weed? Good question and the law doesn’t go into a lot of detail. Whether it is okay to purchase the seeds, is kind of a nudge, nudge, wink, wink, a nudge is as good as a wink to a blind man kind of thing.
If you have more than an ounce of marijahoochie, it could be a civil violation, with a $25 fine…but if you are loaded up with a pound or so, that is a felony, carrying 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine…ouch!
Catch-22: You can grow up to four plants, and if you do it right, you will harvest, well, let’s say way more than an ounce. A couple of pounds on the stalk is fine and dandy, but once you harvest it, it seems like that would put you in felony territory, so…be careful.
In most cases, folks will probably continue to use their previous, preferred dealer, I mean “vendor”.
You cannot legally smoke pot in public, which is weird. Worse, you can’t pass a joint to your bro at a concert, you know like you did at Norfolk Scope at the Aerosmith concert back in 1976. This goes for wine festivals, or any public gathering. Sucks. How law enforcement will handle this will be on a case-by-case, locality by locality basis.
And dude, you can’t toke up and drive your car, even if you get really buzzed and drive super slow like Cheech and Chong. You cannot legally use marijuana as a passenger either. This is considered driving while intoxicated, which we know is a serious crime.
Note: Do not have an open container of weed in the car. This could be used say that you were driving while high. Stash your weed in a closed container and keep it in the trunk.
The Five-O can no longer search vehicles just because they smell pot — but judges will have to determine whether an “odor of marijuana” can be used to establish probable cause for police searches after accidents or wild, out of control driving, or driving while naked.
The kicker, possession of ganja is still illegal under federal law, with the third pot possession offense an automatic federal felony. That’s a federal felony bro, which comes with a prize of five years of jail time. Not just possession, but growing also.
Federal law also bars anyone who uses pot from owning a gun, with the federal background check asking applicants if they “are an unlawful user” of marijuana or other narcotics.
If you are trying to buy a gun, this is on the ATF form, “Warning: The use or possession of marijuana remains unlawful under Federal law regardless of whether it has been legalized or decriminalized … in the state where you reside.”
Lying on the form is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Ouch!
Remember, Federal law still trumps state law.
Opinion: If sleepy Joe does anything useful, maybe legalizing marijuana at the federal level would be a good start.
Our state also has a new agency, the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority — similar to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority. These guys are in charge of the state’s weed marketplace beginning in 2024.
The agency is made up of a five-member board that is appointed by the governor. They will make regulations to “prevent any corrupt, incompetent, dishonest, or unprincipled practices.” There is also a 21-member advisory council.
Regulations should be ready by July of 2023, which will allow folks to apply for “licenses” to sell marijuana in Virginia. The target date to get the marketplace up and running is January of 2024.