Despite Virginia’s new marijuana law, it’s still a federal offense

Marijuana in Virginia

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – Possession of an ounce or less of marijuana is now legal in the Commonwealth, but remains a federal offense. So if you’re in a federal building, courthouse, military base and you’re carrying weed, you’re violating federal law.

“You should know whether you’re on federal property or state property, so that way you’re not in jeopardy of having up to an ounce on your person,” said attorney Diane Toscano in a Thursday morning interview outside the federal courthouse.

The law also applies to someone going onto a federal or military installation, even if that’s not where they typically work.

“Some of our civilian contractors that go onto base, or any friends or family that go onto base need to be mindful of that, that they should not have anything on their person,” Toscano said.

For the same reason, Toscano says mail carriers should not have marijuana on them or in their vehicles. And if you work for the federal government in any capacity, think twice about marijuana possession regardless of wherever you might be.

“I would advise federal employees to be very careful about that, because you have to abide by federal laws, so I would be concerned about having possession of marijuana.”

The federal law has implications for how to plan a vacation. Yorktown Battlefield, Historic Jamestowne, the Blue Ridge Parkway and Arlington National Cemetery and other similar destinations are all in the Commonwealth but are federal property.

Toscano says she has represented defendants who were charged under federal marijuana laws, but only in combination with other charges and never a federal marijuana charge by itself. She says such a prosecution would be rare.

“I don’t see where the Feds are coming and trying to arrest people for that necessarily, but if you are on federal property and you get pulled over and you have marijuana on you, that is a violation of the federal law.”

Here’s another key law to remember if you have less than an ounce and you have a gun permit.

“It’s still illegal under federal law to have marijuana and a firearm together. That would be a federal offense,” Toscano said.

It’s also still illegal under federal law to transport marijuana from one state to another, regardless of the laws in each state.

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