Virginia Drug Laws


We provide a comprehensive overview of Virginia drug laws, penalties for possession and use of drugs, drug trafficking, and more.

Who Enforces Drug Laws?


In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) enforces controlled substance laws and regulations. However, every state has laws of its own regarding controlled substances and drug possession laws.

Under Virginia law 18.2-250, it’s illegal for any individual to intentionally or knowingly possess a controlled substance unless they have a valid prescription or it is obtained because of a doctor’s order while “acting in the course of his professional practice.”

Aside from being illegal to possess drugs and controlled substances, possessing drug paraphernalia is also illegal. Drug paraphernalia is defined as products, equipment, or materials that are used for growing, manufacturing, preparing, or introducing the drug into a human body.

Regardless of whether you consider drug charges serious or not, a drug conviction can affect your life for many years. So, if you are facing drug possession or drug paraphernalia possession charges, ensure you hire an experienced drug lawyer.

Virginia Drug Schedule


A controlled substance is defined as a drug or a substance listed in one of six drug schedules according to the Virginia Drug Control Act. Drug classifications are based on their currently accepted medical use and their potential for abuse and physical dependence.

  • Schedule I includes highly addictive drugs which have the highest potential for abuse. These drugs include heroin and LSD (acid).

  • Schedule II drugs also possess a high potential for abuse, but some of these drugs can be used for medical purposes, as opposed to Schedule I drugs. These include morphine, oxycodone, and cocaine.

  • Schedule III drugs have medical use but also a moderate potential for physical dependence and abuse. They include opioids and anabolic steroids.

  • Schedule IV drugs also have medical use and a low risk for potential abuse. Some examples include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.

While Schedule V consists of low-addiction controlled substances with limited amounts of narcotics, Schedule VI controlled substances are not necessarily drugs but substances that can be abused. Cough medications with Codein are classified as Schedule V, while glue fumes are considered Schedule VI controlled substances.

Charges for Drug Possession Virginia


An individual who possesses or obtains controlled substances without a valid prescription or in an unauthorized manner is considered to be in possession of controlled substances. The seriousness of one’s drug possession charge and penalties depends not only on the amount of the controlled substance but also on drug classification.

  • Possession of a Schedule VI controlled substance, as a Class 4 misdemeanor, carries a potential fine of up to $250.

  • As a Class 3 misdemeanor, possession of a Schedule V controlled substance carries a fine of up to $500.

  • Possession of a Schedule IV controlled substance is a Class 2 misdemeanor with potential penalties including up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

  • Possession of a Schedule III controlled substance is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This drug offense carries a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Felony Possession of a Controlled Substance in Virginia

Possession of a Schedule I or II drugs is a Class 5 felony. If convicted, potential penalties include a prison sentence of one to 10 years and criminal fines of up to $2,500.

Alternatively, a jury or the court may also choose to sentence a person convicted of a Class 5 felony to one year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500, according to Virginia law.


Penalties for Possession of Marijuana

Virginia drug laws and penalties are harsh. Drug crimes and the amount of drugs involved often influence the length of a penalty.

Although marijuana is not among the drugs classified in Schedules, that doesn’t mean its possession doesn’t carry penalties. The Commonwealth of Virginia reduced possession of more than an ounce of marijuana to a civil offense punishable by a small fine.

However, possession of large quantities, such as more than a pound, carries a felony drug charge. Virginia drug laws state that penalties for this drug crime include imprisonment from one to ten years, a fine of $250,000, or both.

Virginia Drug Distribution Laws


Drug trafficking or distribution is considered a much more serious drug crime than drug possession. So if a person has in their possession even a small amount of illegal drugs, they may be facing a possession with intent to distribute charge. It means individuals are accused of selling, illegally providing, and delivering or distributing illegal drugs or controlled substances.


Penalties for Possession of Controlled substances with Intent to Distribute

Similar to drug possession, the penalties for possession with intent to distribute are also based on the classification of the drug in question.

  • Possession of Schedule VI or Schedule V drugs with the intent of distribution is punishable with a fine of up to $2500 and up to a year in jail.
  • Possession of Schedule IV drugs with the intent to distribute is a Class 6 felony. Potential penalties include a fine (up to $2500) and up to five years in prison.
  • When it comes to Schedule III drugs, these charges can result in a Class 5 felony offense. Penalties for this drug crime include a fine of up to $2500 and up to 10 years in prison.
  • Finally, possession with intent to distribute Schedule I or II drugs is punishable with a harsh fine of up to $500,000 and a prison sentence of five to 40 years.

All drug-related offenses should be treated seriously, regardless of whether the drug in question is marijuana, cocaine, or a prescription drug. Misdemeanor offenses can also carry consequences in addition to criminal penalties such as difficulty finding employment, affect housing, and other aspects of your life. Discussing your case with a drug possession lawyer is crucial if you want to make sure your rights are protected.

Can You Get Indicted for Buying Drugs in Virginia?


Drug offenses can also be charged as federal crimes in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Among the most common are simple drug possession charges and possession with the intent to distribute. Bear in mind that the federal government possesses extensive resources to prosecute and investigate drug crimes.

That means it’s crucial to act quickly if you anticipate they could be gathering evidence or preparing to file charges against you. Contacting an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible is crucial to negotiating a favorable outcome before you are indicted.

Gretchen Taylor Pousson of Scrofano Law can help you plan your defense and represent you in court. Schedule a consultation so we can discuss your case.




Are Employers Restricted From Conducting Drug Testing?

Even though many states have passed laws restricting employers from requiring drug testing from their employees, Virginia hasn’t. Virginia drug laws don’t address drug testing in private employment. In other words, employers can require their employees to take drug tests, providing these requests do not conflict with other legal protections.

Do First-Time Drug Offenders Go to Jail in Virginia?

Yes, even first-time drug offenders can go to jail in Virginia. While simple possession of Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance is a felony punishable by serious prison time, a conviction for possessing even less dangerous drugs can send one to jail. For example, you could end up in jail for having anabolic steroids or Ambien in your possession without a prescription.


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