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Drug Policy

While many states -- including Virginia's neighbors -- have taken steps toward more sensible drug policy, Virginia remains steadfastly committed to the failed war on drugs. Marijuana remains illegal for both recreational and medicinal purposes; misdemeanor possession can be punished by up to a year in jail, possession with the intent to distribute even relatively small quantities is a felony, possession of any quantity of marijuana distillate (e.g. oil, wax, most edibles) can be charged as a felony, and distribution of the same carries a potential sentence of 5 to 40 years in prison. While the federal sentencing guidelines have been revamped to address overly punitive sentences for the possession or distribution of harder drugs, Virginia maintains an inflexible scheme of mandatory minimums, which when combined with liberal rules on "stacking" charges, can lead to egregious sentencing disparities.

Although law enforcement in Virginia has ample resources for its drug interdiction efforts, alternatives to incarceration such as diversion, drug courts and drug treatment are woefully underfunded, and in many cases unavailable. 

Read More: Rethinking Virginia's Drug Policy? (ACLU of Virginia)