Virginia Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Law Containing Ban the Box

June 9, 2020 Accurate Background

On May 21, 2020, the State of Virginia enacted a law to decriminalize simple marijuana possession.  The law also prohibits employers from requiring job applicants to disclose information concerning any arrest, criminal charge or conviction for simple possession of marijuana.

The Basics

Location: State of Virginia

Legislation: HB 972/SB 2

Type: Decriminalization of Marijuana-Ban the Box

Effective: July 1 2020

Key Takeaways

  • This law makes records relating to the arrest, criminal charge or conviction of possession of up to one ounce of marijuana not open to public inspection and disclosure.

  • Prohibits employers and educational institutions from requiring an applicant for employment or admission to disclose information related to such arrest, criminal charge or conviction.

  • Allows for individuals with a record of simple possession of marijuana to apply to expunge the record. Additionally, the law provides that convictions for simple marijuana possession will not be reflected on a person’s criminal record.

  • This law does not apply to records of possession where other criminal activities are associated, including, but not limited to: possession with intent to sell, gift, distribute, and/or manufacture, etc.

  • In addition, if a violation of this nature occurs while an individual is operating a commercial motor vehicle, such violations shall be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles and shall be included on such individual’s driving record.

Who is impacted by this Ordinance?

This law applies to employers and educational institutions located in the State of Virginia.

What is prohibited?

The ordinance prohibits:

1) Employers or Educational Institutions from inquiring into applicants’ past criminal history records related to simple possession of up to one ounce of marijuana;

2) Prohibits agencies, officials, and employees of the state and local governments from requiring an applicant for a license, permit, registration or governmental service to disclose information concerning such arrest, criminal charge or conviction. 

3) Making records related to possession of marijuana open to public record or inspection;

Are there any exceptions?

Yes, the provisions shall not apply to members of state, federal, county, city, or town law-enforcement agencies, jail officers, or correctional officers, as defined in § 53.1-1, certified as handlers of dogs trained in the detection of controlled substances when possession of marijuana is necessary for the performance of their duties.  In addition, these records may be made available for review for law enforcement, and or other enforcement agencies.

Are there any penalties?

If an employer is found in violation, can be found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor for each violation.


We recommend you review and discuss with your legal counsel, your organization’s policies and procedures to ensure compliance with the changing laws and regulations. 


Please note:  The information provided above is strictly for educational purposes.  It is not intended to be legal advice, either expressed or implied.  Accurate Background recommends that you consult with your legal counsel regarding all employment regulations.

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