CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Virginia – Not everyone is sure exactly what’s legal and what will remain illegal when Virginia’s new marijuana laws come into effect on July 1, 2021.
The Chesterfield County Police Department released an animated video to help clear up any confusion and add context.
“What we’ve done is all we can do in the short notice we’ve received, and the accelerated partial legalization of marijuana and I think it’s important to qualify is legalization partial, âChesterfield Police Chief Col. Jeffery Katz said. âWe put a video on our social media feed to help educate our community because I think a lot of people think marijuana has just been legalized in wholesale, like all over the Commonwealth and it’s absolutely not true and so there are still practices, a lot of practices involving the consumption of marijuana that are illegal.
The video states:
Let’s face it – we’ve all done it.
We all checked that little box, acknowledging that we read the terms of service we never opened, accepting legal jargon we never looked at.
But, when it comes to Virginia’s new marijuana laws, the fine print is everything.
We’ve all seen the headlines announcing the legalization of marijuana in Virginia, but we all know the headline isn’t the whole story. Let’s take a closer look.
As of July 1, 2021, Virginia: Adults 21 and older can legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana on them in public.
BUT, the consumption of marijuana in public remains illegal, as is the use of marijuana while driving or being a passenger in a vehicle.
Adults aged 21 and over can legally grow up to four plants per household – not per adult, per household.
BUT, these plants cannot be seen from a public road and growers must take steps to prevent people under the age of 21 from accessing them. AND, each plant must be labeled with the owner’s name, driver’s license or ID number and a note that the cultivated marijuana is for personal use.
Adults 21 and older can legally give up to an ounce of marijuana to another person 21 or older.
BUT, you cannot receive money, gifts, etc., in exchange for marijuana. AND, you cannot gift or receive marijuana as a gift with any other purchase.
We’re heading into new territory, but what’s not new is our belief that most people – the vast majority of people, in fact – want to do the right thing.
In an article on his Facebook page, Colonel Katz called the legislation “largely misunderstood.”
âDo you know anything about the legalization of marijuana? CBS 6 reporter Laura French asked Richmond resident Kenneth Ingham.
“Something to do with plants?” “
âHow many plants are you allowed to grow? French asked Richmond resident Casper Oag-Amte.
“I think less than less than a zip, like, less than two ounces? Oag-Amte replied. “Four plants,” French replied. “Four plants? Oag-Amte asked.
âThe day after tomorrow, I’ll probably be more informed about this because I will hear more of it,â said Jackson Booth, a Richmond resident.
Chesterfield Police said it was important to stay informed because ignoring the law is no defense.
“The devil is in the details, you know, people have to read the law, they have to understand what they are allowed and forbidden to do,” Col. Katz said. “You know, basically, at least as far as Virginia law goes, because recognize that it’s still a Schedule 1 drug under federal guidelines and therefore marijuana is still technically illegal in Virginia.” Just the law of Virginia conflicts with federal law.
“How did you prepare your officers for this?” French asked Katz.
âWe have done our best to make sure they are aware of the law and the nuances of that law, and we have done our best to try to communicate to the community as well, that we will hold people to account. for breaking the law we’re obviously going to follow it as it was passed, âKatz said. âBut it’s very flawed and it’s not, it’s not clear. So, you know, a law designed as a measure to improve social justice provides no additional justice for those who misinterpret or misunderstand it and put themselves in a position where their health and safety is compromised.
Katz said they will continue to educate the community and don’t look for violators, but if you’re in public breaking the law, expect the consequences.
âIf you bring marijuana into a public park during a kids’ soccer game and decide you want to smoke it, you’re probably going to be charged,â Katz said. âYou know, I think community tolerance would dictate that they would expect their police department to enforce this law. You know, you go to a schoolyard and you start smoking weed in the schoolyard, you’re going to get arrested for that, you know. I don’t think that’s even the legislator’s intention. Frankly, I have a hard time understanding the legislative intent because the law is so nuanced.