Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in Virginia

Apply For Virginia Medical Marijuana Card Online

Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in Virginia

The Virginia medical marijuana card is no longer mandatory for patients registered in the state’s medical cannabis program. A valid medical cannabis certification suffices to buy and use marijuana legally in the state. The optional card and mandatory certification offer the following benefits:

Legal Protection

Being a registered medical marijuana patient with an unexpired medical marijuana card allows the cardholder to legally possess, use, and transport medical marijuana in Virginia within the accepted limits. Therefore, the card serves as legal protection from arrest for possessing and purchasing medical marijuana products from licensed Virginia dispensaries. It is important to have your medical marijuana card with you when traveling with marijuana within Virginia.

Lower Prices

A Virginia medical marijuana card helps the cardholder make significant savings on marijuana purchases. Medical marijuana cardholders are exempted from paying the 21% excise tax on cannabis purchases. Medical marijuana cardholders only pay the state-imposed 5.3% sales tax on medical marijuana products. Individuals who are not medical marijuana cardholders pay 26.3% (excise tax and sales tax) on their purchases.

Higher Purchase and/or Possession Limits

If you have a medical marijuana card in Virginia, you can purchase and possess up to a 90-day supply of medical marijuana. This 90-day supply is typically a 4-ounce limit for approved medical marijuana products. Persons who have not been issued a medical marijuana card are only allowed to purchase or possess 1 ounce of marijuana.

Access for Minors

Minors in Virginia can access medical marijuana products if they have a Virginia medical marijuana card. Minors younger than 18 can access marijuana through their designated adult caregivers if they qualify as medical marijuana patients under the state’s medical marijuana program. However, there are no provisions for minors to access medical marijuana if they do not have medical marijuana cards or qualify to participate in the state’s medical marijuana program.


Due to the medical marijuana reciprocity provisions in some states, you may legally purchase medical marijuana products in such jurisdictions with a Virginia medical marijuana card. However, not all states offer medical marijuana reciprocity under their medical cannabis programs. The following states provide medical marijuana reciprocity to out-of-state patients:

  • Oklahoma
  • Arkansas
  • Maine
  • Nevada
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • New Mexico
  • New Hampshire
  • Hawaii
  • District of Columbia

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in Virginia

There are certain downsides to having a Virginia medical marijuana card. These include:

Firearm Prohibition

The federal government's stance on cannabis legalization and gun ownership complicates matters for Virginia medical marijuana cardholders. While the state has no specific law disqualifying MMJ cardholders from possessing firearms, individuals with medical marijuana cards are not allowed to own guns under federal law.

Pet the Gun Control Act, individuals who use marijuana, even for medical purposes, are to be treated as unlawful marijuana users due to the federal classification of marijuana as a banned substance. The ATF, in an open letter sent to all federal firearms licensees in the United States, forbids all FFLs from selling firearms and ammunition to medical marijuana users.

In Form 4473, required for all prospective gun purchasers to complete before buying guns, the ATF asks whether the buyers are unlawful marijuana users. Virginia MMJ cardholders who claim not to be unlawful users are guilty of perjury.

Consequently, owning a Virginia MMJ card restricts the cardholder from possessing firearms.

Driving Restrictions

One of the downsides to having a Virginia medical marijuana card is the risk of losing a commercial driver's license. If you drive a commercial motor vehicle in Virginia, you cannot use marijuana even for medical purposes. If you are applying for CDL, you are unlikely to be successful with the application if the United States Department of Transportation becomes aware of your marijuana status. Commercial driver licenses are administered under federal law. Since federal law does not recognize the medicinal value of marijuana, MMJ cardholders will not be issued commercial driver's licenses.

Also, a Virginia medical marijuana card does not offer protection for driving while under the influence of marijuana. While no level of marijuana use is per se or presumptively in violation, the state prohibits driving while under the influence. Even if you have a Virginia medical marijuana card, you will be charged with marijuana DUI if you are impaired due to marijuana use while operating a motor vehicle. Penalties for driving a motor vehicle under the influence of cannabis in Virginia include mandatory fines, denial of the right to drive for specific periods, imprisonment, and the installation of an ignition interlock device on the vehicle driven by the offender.

Annual Renewal

The need to renew a Virginia medical marijuana card is one of the drawbacks to owning the card. Per state law, a Virginia medical marijuana card is valid for 1 year and must, therefore, be renewed annually to enjoy its benefits. You will be required to provide a recertification from a registered healthcare practitioner. This recertification will be submitted along with other items, such as proof of Virginia residency and a government-issued ID before the renewal application is accepted.

The cost for renewing the MMJ card is $50, while the consultation fee that may be charged for issuing a new medical marijuana certification is at the discretion of the healthcare provider. Virginia MMJ cardholders may expect to pay up to $150 for the consultation fee.

Note that it takes up to 8 weeks for a renewal application to be reviewed by the Board of Pharmacy. However, an MMJ cardholder may continue to use their new medical marijuana certification to purchase medical marijuana while waiting for the arrival of the new card.

Employment Restrictions

Governor Ralph Northam signed HB 1862 into law in March 2021 to provide protection for Virginia-registered medical marijuana patients. HB 1862 prohibits employers from disciplining, discriminating, or discharging an employee for their legal use of cannabis oil pursuant to a valid written medical marijuana certification issued by a qualified healthcare practitioner to eliminate the symptoms or treat the employee's diagnosed disease or condition HB 1862 does not:

  • Restrict an employer's ability to take an adverse employment action for any work impairment or to prohibit marijuana possession during employment hours
  • Require an employer to commit any act that may cause the employer or be in violation of federal law, or that may result in the loss of a federal contract or federal funding
  • Restrict employers from firing or refusing to hire a medical marijuana cardholder if the employer can demonstrate that the employee's use of medical marijuana would cause an impairment in the workplace

In contrast to the employment protections afforded medical marijuana cardholders under HB 1862, no such protections are available to non-cardholders.

Federal Prohibitions

For Virginia MMJ cardholders who live in federally assisted housing, using or cultivating marijuana at home remains prohibited and may have serious consequences. That is because marijuana remains a federally banned substance, and agencies or properties owned by the federal government operate under federal law.

Despite the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana in Virginia, federally funded housing authorities in the state have reiterated their policies on marijuana. Pursuant to these policies, Virginia medical marijuana cardholders will be evicted for cannabis use, possession, or cultivation on federally funded housing as the state's recently enacted recreational cannabis law does not apply to residents living in federal rental assistance housing.

Having a Virginia medical marijuana card means getting federal employment is unlikely. Since the federal Controlled Substance Act classifies marijuana as a banned drug, federal employees are banned from using marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. Also, a Virginia MMJ card will not provide employment protection for a federal employee who fails a THC drug test.

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