Virginia's Medical Cannabis Law Takes Effect

Friday, March 9, Governor Ralph Northam signed HB1251, expanding the affirmative defense for possession of medical cannabis oils to any diagnosed condition. Here's what this means and how it works.

The change of law does not legalize possession, it provides an affirmative defense. A signed affirmative defense certificate may be submitted as a patient's or caregiver's defense in a Virginia court of law 10 days prior to trial if charged for possession.

  1. Print the Affirmative Defense Certificate.
  2. Take it to your physician and ask them to sign it.
  3. Keep the signed certificate with your oil at all times.
  4. Present your certificate if questioned by law enforcement.
  5. If not accepted and charged with possession, call an attorney or ask for court-appointed counsel.
  6. Present your signed certificate 10 days prior to trial as directed.

Yes, patients will still have to take risks and extraordinary measures to obtain oils until Virginia's program is operational. The earliest we expect medicine to be available at a licensed Virginia facility is late 2019. This is why there is an affirmative defense process in place.

The affirmative defense applies to oil products only. The oil must contain at least 15% CBD or at least 15% THCA-A and may contain no more than 5% THC. The affirmative defense does not apply to flower, to other products, or to products outside the allowed cannabinoid ratios. 

  1. Remember, make good choices.
  2. Don't consume your medicine in public.
  3. Don't take it out of your home unless absolutely necessary.
  4. Keep your signed certificate with the oil at all times.
  5. If you must drive with your medicine, place it in a locked container in your trunk.
  6. Don't drive impaired. Ever.
  7. Don't post on social media about your medicine.

>> Download the certificate here.

>> Find answers to frequently asked questions here.

If you have any questions. please feel free to contact Virginia NORML at 804-464-7050 Monday through Friday from 9AM to 6PM.


Virginia NORML works year round to change marijuana policy in the Commonwealth. The passage of this legislation wouldn't have been possible without the generous donations of members like you. Can you kick in $5, $25 or $100 a month to help us keep going strong?