Marijuana law has been in flux recently. In a move that challenges the essence of federal law preempting state law, Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana. Another 18 states have decriminalized first-time possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use, including nearby Ohio, Maryland, and D.C. In decriminalized states, you can still get a ticket for having a little marijuana, but generally pay just a fine and jail time isn’t possible.
Additionally, about half of the states have legalized medical marijuana, although the implementation of these laws varies by state. With all of these changes, West Virginia continues to prohibit marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.
Drug Classifications and Marijuana
Federal and state controlled substances laws classify drugs from Schedule I (most dangerous) to Schedule V (least dangerous). Supposedly, the drug schedules are determined by the drugs accepted medical uses and the potential for addiction and harm. However, critics question this classification as politically motivated because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I controlled substance alongside heroin and meth. Marijuana (spelled marihuana in the law) is considered a Schedule I drug in West Virginia.
West Virginia Marijuana Laws
The table below outlines the main marijuana laws in West Virginia.
|Code Sections||West Virginia Code Chapter 60A: Uniform Controlled Substances Act, Article 4: (Drug) Offenses and Penalties and Section 60A-2-204: Schedule I (Drugs)|
It’s illegal to knowingly or intentionally possess marijuana or other controlled substances without a valid prescription in West Virginia.
Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor crime and can get you 90 days to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. For second or subsequent violations, the penalties double to up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine.
You may be able to get deferred prosecution for a first possession offense. With this, you plead guilty, but the charges are dismissed if you successfully complete your probation requirements.
|Selling or Dealing||What’s Prohibited?
West Virginia prohibits manufacturing (cultivating), delivering, or possessing with the intent to manufacture or deliver marijuana or other drugs.
Dealing marijuana is a felony offense that can be punished by 1 to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. A second offense can be sentenced to double the regular penalties.
Adults 21 or older selling weed to a minor under 18 or adults 18 or older selling it within 1,000 feet of a school or college have to serve a mandatory two years before they can be paroled out.
|Trafficking or Transporting||What’s Prohibited?
Transporting drugs, including marijuana, into West Virginia with the intent to deliver them to drug dealers or users is illegal.
Trafficking or transporting Mary Jane will get you 1 to 5 years in prison and at most a $15,000 fine.
|Drug Paraphernalia||What’s Prohibited?
You can’t sell or possess with the intent to sell drug paraphernalia including anything used to grow, process, or take marijuana, from bongs to pipes to roach clips.
Selling drug paraphernalia can get you six months to one year in jail and up to a $5,000 fine. Again, you can get double penalties for a second or subsequent offense.
Getting Legal Help
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a marijuana-related crime, you should consult with an experienced West Virginia criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. If you can’t afford an attorney, tell the judge and ask for a public defender to be appointed.
Note: State laws change all the time, especially in a hot area like marijuana law. Please contact a lawyer or conduct your own legal research to verify these and other criminal laws.
Research the Law
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