Virginia Cannabis Attorneys

In Virginia, the legalization of recreational cannabis was approved and signed into law by the governor in 2021.

Cannabis prohibition has now been replaced with a system that taxes and regulates cannabis usage for adults aged 21 or over in Virginia. Adult-use sales of cannabis are expected to start in early 2023.

This breakthrough legislation places Virginia on par with other states that have recently taken similar measures. It opens up the possibility for newcomers to enter the cannabis industry, whereas previously only licensed medical cannabis operators could operate here.

However, licenses are not given away freely. To participate in the emerging cannabis industry in Virginia, you will need to navigate a complex process of license application and regulatory compliance.

The authorities want to maintain maximum control in the early days of the industry so that it sets good precedents and justifies the decision to legalize cannabis. They also want to ensure that important employment and revenue targets for the state are met.

Several different cannabis business licenses are available now in Virginia to those who are successful in the application process.

It is important for business owners to understand the requirements and to abide by all cannabis laws. Violations may not only result in administrative penalties but also criminal penalties with mandatory minimum prison sentences.

The cannabis attorneys at Cannabis Law Solutions have built a comprehensive understanding of the regulations to help you navigate the complex legal landscape and capitalize on the business opportunities available here in Virginia.

Laws for cannabis possession (personal use) in Virginia

The Virginia laws for possession of cannabis for personal use are as follows:

Up to one ounce

  • No criminal offense, no incarceration and no fine

More than one ounce up to one pound

  • Civil violation with no incarceration and a fine of $25

Laws for the sale, manufacture and trafficking of cannabis in Virginia 

The Virginia laws for the sale, manufacture or trafficking of cannabis are strict, as the following illustrates:

One ounce – five pounds

  • Felony offense with 1-10 years in prison and a $2,500 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of one year

Five pounds – 100kg

  • Felony offense with 5-30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of five years

More than 100kg

  • Felony offense with 20 years to life in prison and a $100,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of 20 years

To a minor who is at least three years younger

  • Felony offense with 2-50 years in prison and a $100,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of two years

Within 1,000 feet of a school or school bus stop

  • Felony offense with 1-5 years in prison and a $100,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of one year

Manufacture of cannabis

  • Felony offense with 5-30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of five years

Transporting more than five pounds into the state

  • Felony offense with 5-40 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine
  • Mandatory minimum sentence of five years

Laws for the cultivation of cannabis in Virginia

The Virginia cannabis cultivation laws allow you to grow up to four plants without incurring any penalties.

Regulation of the cannabis industry in Virginia

The Cannabis Control Authority (CCA) is a new body set up to regulate the adult-use cannabis program in Virginia. It is responsible for granting, suspending or revoking licenses.

Initial sales of cannabis are expected to be facilitated through the existing medical cannabis dispensaries while the licensing rules for recreational cannabis in the state are finalized and approved businesses gear up for the start date.

A restricted number of licenses available in Virginia

Under the legislation passed, strict limits have been placed on the number of cannabis business licenses awarded in the state. These are as follows:

  • 400 retailer licenses
  • 25 wholesaler licenses
  • 450 cultivator licenses
  • 60 product manufacturer licenses

These numbers do not include existing medical cannabis businesses or testing labs.

Criteria for cannabis license approval in Virginia

The Cannabis Control Authority will assess applicants for licenses based upon a wide range of criteria.

Of particular importance is the density of retail stores in the community and the potential for any negative public health outcomes in the community.

Potential cannabis business owners should note the following:

  • Vertical integration (owning multiple types of cannabis businesses) is only permitted for   microbusinesses and existing medical cannabis businesses (all of which are vertically integrated)
  • Stores must be geographically dispersed (to be reassessed after every 100 licenses are issued)
  • Priority in the licensing system will be given to social equity applicants, i.e., those with a prior cannabis conviction or a close relative with one, or who live in an economically disadvantaged area or an area with disproportionate cannabis arrests
  • A Cannabis Business Equity and Diversity Support Team will help identify potential barriers to diversity, equity, and inclusion plans
  • The Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council will assess and monitor public health impacts and make recommendations
  • Seed-to-sale tracking, packaging, and labeling is required
  • Strict rules govern the cultivation, sanitation, testing, and advertising of cannabis products

What types of cannabis establishment licenses are available in Virginia?

Four different types of cannabis establishment licenses are available in Virginia, as follows:

  •  Cannabis cultivation facility license

This licenses successful applicants to:

  • Cultivate, label, and package retail cannabis
  • Purchase or take possession of cannabis plants and seeds from other cultivation facilities
  • Transfer possession of and sell retail cannabis, immature cannabis plants, and cannabis seeds to wholesalers
  • Transfer possession of and sell retail cannabis, cannabis plants, and cannabis seeds to other cultivation facilities
  • Sell immature cannabis plants and seeds to consumers to cultivate cannabis at home for personal use

These licenses are subdivided into two classes based on the size of the facility and the potency of the cannabis grown:

  • Class A cultivation facility: the licensee can cultivate only up to a certain number of cannabis plants or in an area not larger than a certain number of square feet (to be determined by the CCA)
  • Class B cultivation facility: the licensee can cultivate cannabis plants with a THC concentration of no more than one percent
  • Cannabis testing facility license

This licenses successful applicants to:

  • Purchase or take possession of retail cannabis from a cultivation facility or another cannabis manufacturing facility
  • To manufacture, label, and package retail cannabis/cannabis products
  • To transfer possession of and sell retail cannabis/cannabis products to wholesalers or other manufacturing facilities
  • Cannabis wholesaler license

This licenses successful applicants to:

  • Purchase or take possession of retail cannabis/cannabis products, immature plants, and cannabis seeds from a cultivation facility, manufacturing facility, or another cannabis wholesaler
  • Transfer possession and sell or resell retail cannabis/cannabis products, immature plants, and cannabis seeds to a manufacturing facility, retail cannabis store, or another wholesaler
  • Cannabis retail store license

This licenses successful applicants to:

  • Purchase or take possession of retail cannabis/cannabis products, immature cannabis plants, or cannabis seeds from a wholesaler
  • Sell retail cannabis/cannabis products, immature cannabis plants, or cannabis seeds to consumers on approved premises

How do you apply for a Virginia cannabis establishment license?

To apply for any of the cannabis business licenses outlined above, you will need to submit an application form to the Cannabis Control Authority along with a sworn statement saying that all of the information on the form is true.

You will need to submit a large volume of documentation and authorize the CCA to conduct fingerprint-based criminal background checks on all of the key people in your proposed business, along with other background checks.

You will also need to do the following:

  • Submit proof of inspection (or of a pending request for an inspection) by the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
  • Post a notice of application with the CCA on the front door of the building, place, or room where the business will be based (and in the local newspaper)
  • Pay the required non-refundable application fee for the license

Note that the CCA will not disqualify you because of a past conviction for a cannabis-related offense but it will be taken into consideration during the license application process.

Because of the inherent complexities of attaining a license and complying with the various state regulations in Virginia, many aspiring cannabis business owners seek legal advice and support from experienced cannabis industry lawyers before making too many plans.

Cannabis business legal planning, advice, and support in Virginia

Whether you want to grow, manufacture, retail, or otherwise be part of the burgeoning cannabis industry in Virginia, the legal hurdles are likely to be substantial.

Our cannabis business attorneys can provide the knowledge and support you need to plan, incorporate, protect, and grow a successful cannabis business.

For informed legal advice, call 866-329-0729 for a consultation with a knowledgeable cannabis attorney at Cannabis Law Solutions.

Call Now Or Send a
Message to Get Help.

We are here for you

Call Now (866) 329-0729

How will our cannabis services help you?

Cannabis business entity formation

Whether you are looking to form a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, our experienced business lawyers can discuss the pros and cons of both and help you incorporate your business with the optimal structure to achieve your goals.

Cannabis business licenses

If you want to run a cannabis business, you will need a valid business license issued by your state authority as well as local permits. Eligibility criteria are likely to be stringent and we can help you navigate the often-complex license application process.

Cannabis corporate documentation

Whether you need to prepare for a license application, transfer of business ownership, change of corporate structure, transfer business location, or another business process, we can help you identify and draft the documentation you need to operate legally in your state.

Cannabis administrative law

State authorities watch licensed and unlicensed cannabis businesses closely. If you violate regulations, you could face an administrative penalty. Our attorneys can provide representation or help you prepare for an administrative hearing, settlement conference or appeal.

Cannabis disputes and litigation

Whether you have a dispute with another business, a legal issue with one of your partners or a licensing or administrative issue, you may need legal assistance to help resolve it. We are adept at alternative dispute resolution methods as well as civil litigation.

Regulatory compliance

As the cannabis industry emerges in states around the U.S., it is more heavily regulated than most other industries. We can help your business navigate the red tape and plan to stay on the right side of the regulatory authorities in whichever state you are based.