Virginia Drug Possession Laws

If you were recently arrested for drug possession in the state of Virginia, it is important to understand the potential charges and penalties. Equally important are potential defenses. Consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101.

Virginia Drug Possession Charges

Virginia drug possession laws control which drugs are considered legal or illegal, what amount you are allowed to possess, and in which situations namely medical situations. Virginia drug possession charges are quite serious and while the state of Virginia may be lenient on first offenders, the potential penalties if convicted are severe and long-lasting.

Virginia drug possession laws exact penalties based on the type of crime, the type of drug, and the amount of the drug involved in the charge.

According to Section §18.2-250, drug charges can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the drug type and amount, in accordance with the Virginia Drug Schedule. The penalties are even stricter in situations where you are charged with intent to distribute.

Schedule 1 or 2 Virginia Drug Possession Charges

Schedule 1 Controlled Substances include methamphetamine, heroin, cocaine, and LSD. Virginia law classifies possession of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance as a class 5 felony. This can include a fine of up to $2,500 and between 2 and 10 years in prison.

Schedule 3 or 4 Virginia Drug Possession Charges

Schedule 3 or 4 Controlled Substances include anabolic steroids. Virginia law classifies the possession of a schedule 3 controlled substance as a class 1 misdemeanor and a schedule 4 controlled substance as a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Schedule 5 or 6 Virginia Drug Possession Charges

Schedule 5 or 6 Controlled Substances include prescription drugs such as diazepam, clonazepam, or alprazolam. Virginia law classifies possession of a schedule 5 or 6 controlled substance as a class 3 or class 4 misdemeanor. This can include a fine of up to $500 for a class 5 or up to $250 for a class 6.


The Code of Virginia does not define marijuana by a schedule. Anyone in possession of less than 1/2 ounce of marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor and sentenced to a fine of up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.

First Virginia Drug Possession Offense

Virginia Code Section § 18.2-251 has a First Offender Program. This is available for people charged with drug possession for the first time, regardless of which drug it is. This program requires a mandatory six-month suspension for the driver’s license, an assessment for substance abuse, and randomized drug testing during the course of probation. Probation includes at least 100 hours of community service for a potential felony such as possession of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 substance, and up to 24 hours of community service for a potential misdemeanor such as a schedule 3 through schedule 6 charge.

If you complete this program successfully your record will nonetheless show your participation in the program and that you were charged with possession of a controlled substance.

If you enter into the First Offender Program, a review date will be determined when you must return to court. If you complete the program with no violations, the charge is dismissed. If you have violations, you can be convicted and sentenced based on the original drug charge.

Second Virginia Drug Possession Offense

Virginia law is much stricter for second offenses especially for those who underwent the First Offender Program. The penalty for a second offense is also contingent upon the type of drug and the amount involved.

Schedule Drug Second Offenses

Second offenses for scheduled drugs include felony charges where a charge was previously a misdemeanor, increased risk of jail time, and higher fines.

Marijuana Second Offenses

For marijuana, second offenses, or any amount that is more than 1/2 ounce can result in penalties between 12 months in jail and 10 years in jail with a fine of $2,500.

Virginia Drug Possession Defenses

If you are facing potential drug possession charges, consider asking for professional, legal counsel from the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall. An attorney can review your situation and determine which defenses, if any, are most applicable.

Schedule Drug Defenses

The state of Virginia must prove that whatever was seized by an officer is an illegal drug and that an individual possessed it knowingly or intentionally. The schedule of the drug is irrelevant for conviction, only important for punishment.

In order to convict a prosecution must have the suspected drug tested by a lab and confirmed as an illegal substance. Then the prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly possessed the substance and they knew it was a drug. Individuals who did not realize they possessed the drug can use this as their defense.

Those with a prescription and a medical reason for drug possession can use that as part of their defense.

Individuals might also consider problems with the search and seizure of the drugs in question. if evidence was obtained in violation of Virginia search and seizure laws, it can be inadmissible in court.

Marijuana Defenses

Individuals found in possession of marijuana in the form of THC oil or cannabidiol prescribed by a doctor with the appropriate medical documentation can plead an affirmative defense. The affirmative defense in the state of Virginia was passed by HP 1251 in 2018. This law allows individuals to possess cannabis oil for medical reasons. Individuals with a diagnosed condition and a valid prescription can plead affirmative to the possession, with a legal defense.

Contact an Attorney Regarding Your Legal Rights After a Drug Possession Charge

A drug possession charge can have a lasting impact on your record and change your life. If you are dealing with a Virginia drug possession arrest or charge, consider visiting with an experienced attorney to learn what the potential defenses are and potential penalties. When you reach out to the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at or 703-934-0101, we can provide a consultation to review your case and prepare you for your next steps.