Marijuana defense is Virginia criminal lawyer Jon Katz’s most frequent area of drug defense, running from charges of simple possession of pot/cannabis to sales and cultivation of major quantities of marijuana.
Thus far, Virginia has lagged severely behind the other states legalizing marijuana for a wide range of medical ailments, and certainly far behind the states that have legalized marijuana for personal use or converted possession of small pot quantities to a civil offense. On top of that, Virginia law makes even the simple possession of hash oil a felony, punishable up to ten years.
Even though Virginia has a so-called first-time offender “251” program to ultimately dismiss a drug charge after successful completion of probation, if the judge agrees with a request for the 251 program, one should look before leaping into a 251 disposition.
A full court press is needed for cannabis defense and all other criminal defense in Virginia. Jon covers all essential bases with cannabis defense, including challenging the search and seizure of cannabis, challenging claims of detecting marijuana odor, challenging efforts to prove the seized substance is marijuana, challenging efforts to prove intent to distribute the marijuana, and presenting medical use evidence to counter claims of intent to distribute.
Jon has prepared and presented medical cannabis defenses several times to avoid felony convictions and to obtain other beneficial results, and in that effort often has worked with cannabis cultivation expert Christopher Conrad and medical cannabis expert David Bearman, M.D., including for seizures of dozens of cannabis plants. One approach Jon takes in challenging whether large marijuana quantities are for distribution versus personal use, is the very fact that when a medicinal user finds the right marijuana variety, with the right mix of cannabis sativa and cannabis indica, at the right price, the user will feel compelled to purchase enough of that medicine so as not to run out. (Of course, buying or growing large quantities of pot is what risks a felony intent to distribute prosecution in the first place.)
Jon has worked with smell expert Richard Doty of the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell and Taste Center to counter police claims of smelling unburnt pot.
As an aside, Jon’s devotion to cannabis legalization goes back to 1990, when he took out a High Times magazine subscription in protest over a federal prosecutor’s records subpoena of the pro-pot magazine’s advertiser records, with a protest letter to then-attorney general Dick Thornburgh. From there, Jon read an article in High Times about then-National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) national director Don Fiedler. Jon then met Don Fiedler at the 1990 Earth Day, Don (who also was a criminal defense lawyer) advised how to accomplish Jon’s goal to transition into criminal defense from his civil litigation law firm work, and Jon became a full-time criminal defense lawyer a year later.
No matter how small or large is the quantity of weed involved in a prosecution, it is important to obtain a qualified lawyer for the defense.
Fairfax, Virginia marijuana lawyer Jon Katz has been defending hundreds of clients charged with marijuana and other drug crimes since 1991. To discuss your case with Jon, please call his staff at (703) 383-1100 for a confidential consultation.
Va. Code § 18.2-250.1– Criminalizing pot possession
Va. Code § 18.2-248.1 – Pot penalties beyond mere possession