Virginia Drug Laws

Virginia Drug Laws

The percentage of drug abusers in Virginia is moderately less than the national average; only about seven percent of Virginia residents admitted to a past-month use of illegal substances, compared to the national average of about eight percent. Correspondingly, the rate of drug-related deaths in Virginia is also lower than the national average.

As of the most recent year on record, the most common drug cited in rehabilitation cases was marijuana, with more than twice as many admissions as the next leading category of illicit substance. Cocaine ranked second, with heroin and other opiates being common categories behind cocaine.

Prescription drugs have also been an increasing problem in recent years, though the state has begun fighting back with controlling programs, such as prescription monitoring and drug take-back programs.

Medical Cannabis Use

The Virginia General Assembly has recently relaxed some of its laws regarding cannabis, by adding a provision that allows the use and distribution of cannabis for the treatment of glaucoma or cancer.

Cultivation of marijuana in Virginia is associated with some of the lowest penalties in the country. The cultivation of amounts considered to be for personal use are only counted as possession. This can be associated with a penalty of no more than 30 days in prison, or a fine of only $500.

However, the cultivation of amounts greater than those needed for personal use is considered a felony, and can carry penalties of up to 35 years of imprisonment.

Employment Drug Testing

Currently, in the state of Virginia, it is legal for businesses to administer drug testing as a pre-employment screen, so long as they inform all necessary participants before administering the test. However, it is illegal for any business in Virginia to administer a drug test for which the employees are required to pay.

Additionally, Virginia has passed a piece of legislation that forces those seeking welfare to take a drug test before receiving any unemployment benefits. The bill has been met with criticism and scrutiny from opponents, who claim that it is an infringement on basic human rights. As of now, there is a requirement that every person on some form of public assistance be evaluated for the likelihood of being addicted to or under the influence of substances. Those who test positive would have the opportunity to attend a state-approved drug treatment problem.

Rehabilitation Options

The rehabilitation options in Virginia are numerous, especially around major metropolitan areas. As part of a required judicial sentence, some cases in Virginia may carry a mandatory rehabilitation period, especially in those convicted of multiple drug-related offenses. Virginia also offers a number of state-funded rehabilitation programs, which are available to those who may otherwise not be able to afford the drug treatment they need.

Virginia’s drug laws are moderately more lax than are those of many similar states, and the drug-using portion of its population is relatively lower as well. Its recently passed bill requiring drug testing in order to receive unemployment benefits is controversial, but overall the state’s laws are significantly more relaxed than those of other states.

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