How Have the Virginia Cannabis Laws Changed?

How Have the Virginia Cannabis Laws Changed?

Across the country views on cannabis have been changing. Today fewer than 1 in 10 Americans  feel that marijuana should not be legal under any circumstance and the majority also believe that recreational use should also be permitted. 

That is a big change from a few decades ago, when, in the “just say no” era the support for marijuana was at an all time low. 

Now it seems the laws are beginning to catch up. 

Across the country, 37 states have legalized medical cannabis. We’re at a point now where 18 states also have legal weed dispensaries. Virginia is not quite there yet but as you’ve likely heard, on July 1, we had some major changes to the laws and now Virginia does allow recreational use under many circumstances.

What Sparked the Change

So why are laws changing in Virginia and beyond?

First of all, the aforementioned changing views cannot be ignored. Politicians must face their constituents and when they get too out of step with these constituents they may also be out of a job. 

But beyond that there’s the very real fact that a lot of people have been hurt by drug enforcement laws. With 450,000 people imprisoned for nonviolent drug offenses (that’s about 20% of the incarcerated), and over half of all American adults (including 3 of our last 5 presidents) saying they have partaken of cannabis at some point, it starts to look like a lopsided and unfair equation indeed.

With the sheer number of people trying cannabis, it takes a lot of resources (read money) to prevent cannabis consumption and most law enforcement agencies don’t see it as a priority. So, the laws were not very practical on an enforcement basis or popular on a legislative basis.

Secondly, the rule to always follow when anything major changes is the same across all categories: Follow the money. If all these people are going to be buying a recreational drug regardless, doesn’t it make sense to treat it the same way as other state controlled recreational drugs and make some money off of it? That seems to be the logic. 

So What’s Changing?

As mentioned, Virginians are not yet able to legally buy cannabis products from a dispensary.

Under the original law passed, buying, selling and possession would have all become legal in January 2024. But many advocates for social justice felt this left a lot to be desired. If lawmakers were acknowledging cannabis use shouldn’t be a criminal offense, shouldn’t we stop arresting people for using it? 

So the compromise made was that use and cultivation of cannabis would no longer be illegal in Virginia but sales would be.

As of July 1, people 21 and older may now partake of cannabis products. Like alcohol, public consumption is not allowed under most circumstances and users must not drive while under the influence. 

Additionally, each household may grow up to 4 plants. (That’s per household, not per person.) Technically, each plant is supposed to be labeled with the individual grower’s name, driver’s license or ID number and a card that says it is for personal use. Plants are also not supposed to be able to be within site of the public. 

Where it gets confusing is how growers are supposed to get the plants. 

Since sales of cannabis plants or seeds are still illegal, growers will have to be “gifted” a plant. However, interstate travel with plants or seeds is still illegal under federal law. So how do you get the plants or seeds? 

It must already be in Virginia. And since it wasn’t legal to grow marijuana in Virginia until July 2021, basically the way to legally grow your own cannabis is by getting it for free from someone who was previously growing it illegally!

This somewhat hazy state of legal affairs helped lead to another law being passed July 1 2021: The Clean Slate Act. The Clean Slate Act has begun a process for automatically sealing records for most cannabis-based offenses if the person is not convicted of any other crimes during the seven year period following arrest. 

State vs Federal Law

It’s worth noting that under federal law cannabis possession is still a criminal offence. At the moment, it’s not a priority on the list of federal enforcement. But technically that could change at any minute. Many federal lawmakers are also trying to get laws changed to reflect America’s changing values.

Virginia seems to be betting on the federal tide turning as the first Virginia dispensaries are expected to open in January of 2024 with the first applications for selling cannabis expected to be filed in 2023. 

Until then, be aware of laws in your own state and locality and be careful to stay within the confines of those laws. Be safe out there. And since growing is currently your way to partake, come out to Blue Ridge Hydroponics and let’s get growing!

How Do I Grow Cannabis?

How Do I Grow Cannabis? – 3 Things You Need to Know

So, you’ve been following the news, you know the laws (and if you don’t check out our next blog), the day is here and you are excited to be able to legally partake in cannabis. What do you do next? Well, people can’t legally sell it to you so how can you possibly enjoy your newly legal hobby? Maybe you’re thinking about growing.

In a lot of ways growing cannabis is like growing any other plant. It has preferences. It has needs. There are many varieties and growers have their favorites. Like heirloom tomatoes, some varieties may take a little extra TLC but to the connoisseur the difference in final product is worth it. 

Like tomatoes you can grow cannabis indoors or outdoors but there are some potential pitfalls with outdoor growth with either and a few extra with the newly legal option. 

Yes You Can(nabis)!

The obvious benefits of growing cannabis indoors include the ability to control the environment and the ability to have plants growing year-round. The weather and whether you have suitable outdoor space for growing with correct sun to shade ration and good soil have led indoor growers of every crop to Blue Ridge Hydroponics for years. 

With cannabis you may also desire discretion. Even though it is now legal to grow up to 4 plants per household you may not like the prying eyes of neighbors who may judge you for your crop. And you also don’t want to draw the attention of potential thieves.

So what do you need to grow indoors? The most important things are the growing medium, humidity, temperature and light. And in order to get those right you just need a little knowledge and some products from yours truly.

Growing Cannabis at the Correct Light and Temperature Level

The first thing you need to know when thinking about providing the right amount of light and the correct temperature for your plants is that the amounts differ in different stages of growth. 

Generally speaking, seedlings grow best between 75 and 85 degrees. When plants are in their vegetative growth stage the upper limit remains the same but the lower range drops to 70. As for light 18 hours a day is best. Finally, when plants are flowering, they prefer a temperature range from 65 to 80 degrees and 12 hours of light a day.

Simple enough right? 

But how do you control the space to keep it at the correct temperature and light exposure?

First of all, it’s important to make sure your space is set up with no light leaks so that your plants are only exposed to light when you are deliberately exposing them. If they get extra light coming from another source (like a crack around a door or window) plants do not get the simulated night and day that you are trying to provide.

If you know anything about growing plants, you probably know that the lights used to grow them are not your standard lightbulbs. Grow lights are designed specifically for indoor growing and come in 4 varieties: LED, LEC, Metal Halide/High Pressure Sodium and T5. 

Each has its own pros and cons. It’s up to you (with our help if you want it ;)) to figure out which product is best for your personal set-up. 

LED has the highest startup cost but is the most energy efficient, has the lowest temperature and the best light spectrum. LEC is mid-range option that requires $100 bulb replacements once a year. It produces a lot of heat. T5 is cooler than LEC but requires more bulb replacements. Metal Halide/HPS has a lower start-up cost but is also the hottest and least energy efficient. 

Obviously, different heat levels coming from your lights will require different air flow and thermostat set-ups. The external temperature of both the outdoors and the rest of your home will also affect how much work you need to put into controlling the temperature of your growing space. Whether you need to heat up or cool off your growing space, we have what you need. 

What Does My Cannabis Need in Its Growing Medium?

The two ways to grow cannabis indoors are in soil or water (hydroponic).

Whichever way you choose, you will need to make sure your growing medium has the correct nutrients and PH. You can get in the weeds (pun intended) about the perfect amount of each nutrient to have in your growing medium but generally the right high-quality fertilizer will balance it out for you. As for pH, generally a range of 5.8 – 6.2 is preferred though the ideal range can change based on variety and growing medium. The correct pH range makes it possible for your plants to take in nutrients. 

Blue Ridge Hydroponics has all the soil, fertilizer, and hydroponic set-up equipment you will need to get your indoor garden set-up right. 

Just as important as what you want in your plants is what you don’t want. And what don’t we want? Pests.

There are products available to treat infestations in your plants but the best way to go is to prevent them in the first place. Keeping your plants healthy and your pH correct goes a long way toward keeping pests away. There are also soil additives that can help as well as beneficial insects that can be added to your garden to keep less beneficial insects away.

How Humid Should the Environment of My Cannabis Be?

When it comes to humidity, like light and temperature it varies depending upon the plants stage in the growth cycle. During the seedling stage the humidity range should be between 65 and 80 %. This reduces to 40 to 70% during its vegetative state and further down to 40 to 50 % and 30 to 40 % in its initial and final stages of flowering, respectively.

You can keep your plants in the correct humidity ranges by using humidifiers and dehumidifiers. You can measure humidity with a hydrometer which measures water vapor content in the air. Creating good air flow can also have a positive effect on obtaining the ideal humidity level. For example, if your grow room has become too humid, sometimes just opening the space for a little while can create the desired effect. 

Obviously, there are many ways to set up a space and every space is different so there is only so much we can go over in just over 1000 words. Our goal here was to go over the basics. But know that the friendly staff at Blue Ridge Hydroponics are always here to help you with any questions you have about appropriate products and set up for your growing projects. We’d love to help you grow!