Changes to Virginia’s Laws on Marijuana, Hemp and CBD in 2023

Published 3:27 pm Thursday, January 26, 2023

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The legal policies on marijuana and cannabis-derived products continue to evolve in 2023. Most of the proposed legislation centers on making marijuana research legal, but there are also proposed changes for drug reclassification.

Here are the legal changes coming to the states of Virginia this year, including proposed legislative changes at the federal level.

Recreational Marijuana Legalization

As of April 2021, Virginia has made it official. The state legalized adult-use marijuana, and VA expects to start recreational sales in 2024.

Watch out for any changes concerning this for the upcoming year, via the Smithfield Times’ Public Notices and Legal section.

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Hemp-Derived CBD Legalization

Concerning CBD, this non-psychoactive hemp substance has been legal at the federal level since 2018. However, every state can decide for itself whether or not to allow it independently.

By 2023, restrictions may still apply to CBD use in Virginia. Some people may wonder why, considering the state already legalized the possession of recreational marijuana. This is because it takes time to draft the parameters under which hemp-derived CBD can be used and regulated. 

Summary of Proposed Marijuana Research

Bills proposed between 2021-2022 include H.R. 8454, which would allow research entities, such as higher education institutions or medical research facilities, to access cannabis.

If passed, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would have to comply with setting up marijuana research registrations. This also would include allowing registered entities to acquire distributed cannabis for research use.

Specifics of Proposed H.R. 8454 Bill

If passed, H.R. 8454 would demand that researchers receive an uninterrupted supply of marijuana. At the same time, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would not have the power to reinstate its usual interdisciplinary review process.

Doctors would also have the freedom to discuss the potential benefits and harms of CBD use with patients. In addition, federal agencies related to the HHS also will have to report on the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis on medical patients.

Bill H.R. 8454 seems to concentrate on people who have epilepsy. However, it does cover other topics, such as safety precautions for adolescents. Mention of warnings about driving after cannabis use is also made in this proposed legislation.

Other Biden Proposed Cannabis Policy Changes

In October 2022, President Biden pushed for pardoning people with misdemeanor marijuana charges. This is part of an effort for all states to start decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. This means personal possession is no longer treated as a felony like it used to be in some states.

Results of Proposed Policy Changes

Joe Biden doesn’t necessarily have direct influence over each jurisdiction. However, much has changed since the legalization of marijuana in more places in the U.S. This happened before Joe Biden took office, but it continues with him serving as president.

For instance, more police have stopped arresting people for recreational marijuana use. However, this notion usually limits itself to times when people have maybe just one rolled joint on their person. It’s also usually an amount too small to be classified as “intent to sell” that law enforcement officers might overlook.

Amounts considered a misdemeanor vary from state to state, such as a quarter to an eighth of an ounce. Any more than the state limit could still make possession a felony.

Of course, the criminalization of larger amounts of marijuana possessed by a person doesn’t apply to states where medical or recreational cannabis is legal. However, the limits set by the states that have legalized it still exist.

In states where marijuana is legal, no penalty is issued if a person complies with the rules set by that state. That means they won’t even receive a fine if they only possess and carry in public what they’re allowed by law in that state. That’s because it’s legal for them to carry a certain amount.

Persons possessing marijuana, however, may receive a citation at the discretion of law enforcement on the scene if other lives are in danger. This includes when a cop pulls over a driver who has exceeded the speed limit.

If the police have reason to believe the person is under the influence of any drug, including cannabis, the person could be fined or sent to jail. Many states are, in fact, establishing new ways to enforce driving while high in similar ways as driving while intoxicated.

Proposed Drug Classification Changes

Not everyone realizes this, but the DEA has classified marijuana in the same Schedule I category as heroin, peyote or LSD. Ironically, despite the opioid crisis going on around the world, marijuana even has a higher drug addiction rating than Vicodin (hydrocodone), Oxycontin (oxycodone) or fentanyl and morphine.

Even potentially misused psychotropic drugs, such as Xanax or Valium, are listed as ones with less potential for abuse than marijuana. This may not mean much when you find out people have figured out a way to abuse cough syrups, which are listed as a Schedule V drug.

The goal is to help the Attorney General at least reconsider how marijuana is classified. This could mean that cannabis no longer remains classified as Schedule I. If so, this could mean marijuana legalization for other states besides Virginia.

Keep in mind, however, that changing the scheduling of marijuana won’t downplay the possibility of misuse. People will still get arrested if they have too much pot on them, or they will probably be sentenced to jail time if they try to sell weed without a proper distribution or dispensary license.