The cultivation of cannabis for both recreational and medical purposes is legal in Fairfax County. Adults aged 21 years or older are permitted to cultivate up to four marijuana plants pursuant to SB 1406 and HB 2312. However, the home cultivation of cannabis is only allowed at the primary residences of the cultivators and the cultivation areas must be inaccessible to persons under the age of 21. SB 1406 also requires any person cultivating cannabis at home to tag cultivated plants with their name, driver's license or state ID number, and a notice that the cultivated plant is for personal use.
Cannabis cultivated at home in Fairfax County must be hidden from public view except with the use of binoculars, aircraft, or other optical aids. Both indoor and outdoor cultivation of cannabis are permitted in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Regardless of the number of adults living in a residential unit, no more than four cannabis plants may be cultivated in a Virginia household.
The manufacturing of recreational cannabis products is currently illegal in Fairfax County. Also, per Section 4.1-1101 of the Virginia Code, no individual may manufacture marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana. No owner of a property or tract or land may knowingly permit another person to manufacture marijuana concentrate from home-cultivated marijuana on or within that land or property.
However, per SB 1406 passed by Virginia's legislature in April 2021, the manufacturing of recreational cannabis products may begin no earlier than January 1, 2024. Note that in accordance with Article 4.2 of Chapter 34 of the Virginia Code, licensed pharmaceutical processors can currently produce medical cannabis products.
Although adult-use cannabis has been legalized in Virginia, the retail sale of recreational cannabis in Fairfax County is not expected to begin until 2024 in accordance with SB 1406 and HB 2312. However, medical cannabis dispensing facilities that have obtained permits pursuant to Section 54.1-3442.6 of the Virginia Code may sell medical cannabis to qualifying patients.
It is illegal to deliver recreational cannabis in Fairfax County as adult-use cannabis is illegal in Virginia. However, cannabis dispensing facilities are permitted to deliver medical cannabis to patients with valid written certifications approving medical marijuana use in accordance with Article 4.2 of Chapter 34 of the Virginia Code.
The medical marijuana (MMJ) card issued in Fairfax County is a State of Virginia identification card that permits the person named on the card to obtain up to a 90-day supply of medical cannabis. To be eligible to obtain a medical marijuana card, an applicant must be aged 18 or older, reside in Fairfax County or another State of Virginia location, and have received a certification from a qualified physician to use medical cannabis. A state-issued driver's license, state ID card, or a United States passport may be used to prove Virginia residency.
Unlike many other states in the United States, Virginia does not have a list of approved medical conditions for medical marijuana. The state leaves the diagnosis and approval to the doctor's discretion in determining whether an applicant qualifies for a recommendation or certification to use medical marijuana. However, applicants suffering from the following conditions have a good chance of being approved for medical marijuana:
Note that the healthcare practitioner issuing the written medical marijuana certification must be registered with the Virginia Board of Pharmacy. The practitioner may be a physician’s assistant or a nurse practitioner.
After receiving a medical marijuana certification from a healthcare practitioner, the applicant must register online with the Virginia Department of Health Professions. During the application process, the following will be required:
Upon completing the application, the applicant is advised to wait two weeks for their application to be approved.
Pursuant to HB 933 and SB 671, starting from July 1, 2022, patient registrations will no longer be required before obtaining medical marijuana in Virginia. Then, patients may purchase medical marijuana products from licensed medical cannabis dispensing facilities once they have obtained written certifications from approved physicians. For more information on obtaining medical marijuana cards in Fairfax County, contact the following agencies:
Fairfax County Health Department
10777 Main Street
Fairfax, VA 22030
Phone: (703) 246-2411
Virginia Board of Pharmacy
9960 Mayland Drive
Henrico, VA 23233-1463
Phone: (804) 367-4444
Fax: (804) 527-4472
Virginia only experienced its first full year of medical cannabis sales in 2021 and, according to an independent study, sales are projected to be between $9 million and $11 million. The study also estimated medical cannabis sales to grow to between $45 million and $55 million by 2024. However, with new legislation (HB 2218) permitting whole medical marijuana flower sales in Virginia, current projections will likely be too conservative compared to actual sales by 2024. Typically, marijuana flower sales account for approximately 50% of market sales for marijuana.
Furthermore, according to a report by the Virginia JLARC (Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission), legalizing recreational marijuana in the state is likely to generate up to $300 million in annual tax revenue and create up to 11,000 jobs. The JLARC report recommends a 20% - 25% retail sales tax on top of the current 5.3% standard retail sales tax to reach the estimated figures. According to the report, the revenue generated would be shared between state and local governments. Another study from the Virginia governor's office also indicates that recreational cannabis legalization could generate between $698 million and $1.2 billion in annual economic activities.
The 2020 Virginia Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) report showed that the state recorded between 25,000 and 30,000 arrests for marijuana-related offenses annually over the past decade. The JLARC report reveals that the majority of marijuana-related arrests have been for small-amount marijuana possession. From 2010 to 2019, Virginia had an average of roughly 22,000 marijuana possession arrests each year. Approximately ten times as many arrests were made for marijuana possession as for distribution or other marijuana charges. The JLARC report estimates arrest rates for marijuana-related offenses to drop from 320 arrests per every 100,000 Virginians in 2019 to 50 arrests in the same population size after the legalization of recreational cannabis.
In April 2020, Governor Ralph Northam signed HB 972 into law, decriminalizing simple cannabis possession and stipulating a maximum $25 fine as the penalty for possession of up to one ounce of cannabis. Following the decriminalization of cannabis, arrest numbers for marijuana-related offenses in Virginia dropped by approximately 50%, according to the state’s 2020 crime report.
Per the Virginia 2020 crime report, 13,674 cannabis-related arrests were made in 2020, compared to 26,470 in 2019. Similarly, the percentage of marijuana-related arrests fell from 57% in 2019 to 46% in 2020. The decrease contrasts with over 29,000 marijuana arrests in 2018, the largest number in two decades which prompted demands for Virginia's cannabis laws to be amended. According to the study, total marijuana seizure cases decreased by roughly 32%, with decriminalization cited as the primary cause.