VA Law 18.2-248.1:1 is the prohibition against possession, sale, gift, distribution, and possession with intent to distribute (“PWID”) synthetic marijuana in Virginia.

Synthetic marijuana has a street name of “K2” or “Spice” of “Synthetic Cannabinoids” or “JWH.”

Synthetic marijuana has the appearance of ground marijuana or potpourri. It is sold as “incense” and is sprayed with the now outlawed chemicals “bath salts” or “white wave.”

Since this is a relatively new law in Virginia and Virginia police are still actively developing their protocols for field testing for synthetic cannabis. As of now, field test kits do not test for synthetic substances. This means that you should not be arrested on the street for possession of synthetic marijuana. The police should only arrest you for a synthetic marijuana offense AFTER they have properly tested the compound they seized from you in a laboratory and AFTER they have obtained a warrant for your arrest based on those test results.

Synthetic Cannabinoids, “JWH,” or “Spice,” is an herbal product sold as incense. Synthetic Cannabinoids are a Schedule I drug. Code of Virginia § 18.2-248.1:1 makes it illegal to possess, give, sell, or distribute Spice. Possession of Spice is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Sale, gift, distribution, or possession with intent to sell, give or distribute is a Class 6 felony punishable by imprisonment for one to 10 years or imprisonment for up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500.

Code of Virginia § 54.1-3446 makes it illegal to possess, use, or distribute methlyenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV) or methylmethcathinone (mephedrone), two common synthetic cathinones found in drugs known as “bath salts.” These drugs are sometimes also sold with the label of “plant food,” “bath crystals,” “herbal incense,” or “research chemicals.” Possession of bath salts is a Class 5 felony and can be punished by imprisoned for 1 to 10 years.

Virginia Penalties for Possession and Distribution of Synthetic Marijuana

1) The knowing or intentional possession of synthetic marijuana is a class 1 misdemeanor.

2) The sale or distribution, or possession with intent to sell or distribute, of synthetic marijuana is a class 6 felony.

3) A gift without intent to profit (an accommodation) of synthetic marijuana is a class 1 misdemeanor, unless the accommodation is to an inmate of a state, local or federal penitentiary, in which case it is a class 4 felony.

4) The manufacture of synthetic marijuana is a special felony “punishable by imprisonment of not less than five nor more than 30 years and a fine not to exceed $10,000.


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This article is written by Virginia drug defense attorney Marina Medvin, an award-winning criminal lawyer serving Alexandria, Fairfax, and Arlington, VA. She successfully represents individuals charged with drug and marijuana crimes in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Vienna and Falls Church. Please call for a Virginia drug attorney consultation.


Review Virginia’s Marijuana possession laws here.

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