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Before you bust out the weed thinking that marijuana is fully legal, you should know your rights. We’ve got a rundown of what you can – and can’t – do under Virginia’s new laws. Want to make use of your weed stems? We've got three smokeless ways to help you do it. Weed stems are more fibrous than the buds of the plant, so they’ll burn hotter and produce a harsher smoke that can also give you a headache

Hazy about the new marijuana laws? Know your rights.

Before you bust out the weed thinking that marijuana is fully legal, you should know your rights. We’ve got a rundown of what you can – and can’t – do under Virginia’s new laws.

UPDATE: There have been several changes to Virginia’s marijuana laws since the time this blog post was written. For the most up-to-date guide on marijuana law, please visit Marijuana Justice’s Know Your Rights page.

Today is 4/20, an unofficial marijuana holiday that many people celebrate by lighting one up. Any day now, the governor will sign an historic bill making marijuana legal in Virginia. It marks the beginning of the end of the failed War on Drugs that disproportionately polices and incarcerates Black and Brown people.

Before you bust out the weed thinking that marijuana is fully legal, you should know your rights. We’ve got a rundown of what you can – and can’t – do under Virginia’s new laws.

What exactly is legal?

Starting July 1 of this year, it will be legal for adults 21 and older to carry less than one ounce of marijuana in public.

You cannot legally be penalized for carrying marijuana as you go about your daily business, as long as it’s under an ounce. How much is that? Check out Leafly’s visual guide to weed quantities.

There will be consequences if you get caught holding more than one ounce in public. If you get caught with more than one ounce but less than one pound, you’ll have to pay up to a $25 civil penalty. Do not ever carry more than one pound. If you get caught, you could get one to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

It is also illegal for anyone at any age to bring marijuana onto school grounds. The punishment is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which could result in up to six months of jailtime and up to a $1,000 fine, not to mention the burdensome consequences of a criminal record.

Okay, so you’re saying it’s legal for adults over 21 to smoke marijuana in public?

No. The law distinguishes between possession and use, even though they’re just one step away from each other. It is illegal to smoke or consume weed in public. It is also illegal to offer marijuana to someone else, whether they accept it or not. Giving marijuana to a minor in any situation has criminal consequences. The only thing that is legal is having less than one ounce with you, but it has to stay in your pocket or bag.

If caught using or giving marijuana to another person in public, you will face a range of penalties. For your first offense, you will pay up to a $25 fine. For your second offense, you’ll be required to pay another fine and enter a substance abuse treatment and education program. For your third offense, you will be charged a Class 4 misdemeanor, which will result in a $250 fine.

When can I legally buy recreational marijuana?

Legal sales of recreational marijuana will not begin until January 1, 2024. Starting then, only adults over the age of 21 will be able to legally purchase and use recreational marijuana.

What’s taking so long? The state still has to establish the new industry’s rules and regulations and set up the Cannabis Control Authority, which will enforce those rules and regulations. Lawmakers delayed deciding on important questions about how to administer business licenses and whether local governments will have the power to prohibit retail marijuana stores from setting up shop in their jurisdiction. These decisions will be made over the next couple years before the legal market begins on January 1, 2024.

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I’m under 21. Is it legal for me to use marijuana?

No. If you’re under the age of 21, it’s illegal to have or use any amount of marijuana. If you get caught with it, you will be required to pay up to a $25 fine and enter a substance abuse treatment and education program.

If you’re under 18 and caught with marijuana, the consequences could be even worse. At the very least, you’ll be fined and required to enter a substance abuse program. Juvenile court will also treat you as “delinquent,” which, depending on the circumstances, could subject you to a range of additional punishments.

Under Virginia law, courts can legally put you on probation, suspend your driver’s license, fine you up to $500, make your parents participate in a substance abuse program, and even take custody away from your parent or guardian. Judges have a huge amount of discretion and can turn your simple marijuana case into something much worse.

What does the law say about marijuana in cars and vehicles?

It’s complicated. Basically, there are still several offenses in the new law that allow police to stop and arrest you. Bottom line: Never use marijuana in a car or vehicle. It’s illegal whether you’re the driver or a passenger.

Do your best to not even bring marijuana with you on the road. If you must, keep it in the trunk. Having an “open container” of marijuana like a plastic bag, jar, or Tupperware anywhere in the vehicle will give law enforcement reason to presume you consumed it while driving, which is punishable by a misdemeanor and up to $250 fine.

If you drive a commercial motor vehicle like a truck, bus, trailer or taxi, keeping marijuana anywhere inside is punishable by a $25 fine.

If you’re a school bus driver or driver for a ride-sharing company like Uber or Lyft, it is illegal to have or use marijuana under any circumstance. Violating this law will potentially get you jailtime and hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in fines.

Can I grow marijuana in my home?

Yes, with certain limits. Starting July 1 of this year, each household can legally cultivate up to four plants. Notice the limit is per household, not person. So if you live with roommates, the total number of plants you can grow collectively is still four. Exceeding this limit comes with escalating penalties, from a $250 fine for growing five to ten plants, to misdemeanor and felony charges for above that.

If you home grow, you must make sure your plants are not visible to the public or accessible to minors. The law does not specify what preventative measures you should take or how penalties will be enforced.

Home growers must also tag each of their plants with their name, driver’s license or state ID number, and notation that it is for personal use.

Keep in mind that there is currently no legal way to purchase seeds or cuttings for home growth before January 1, 2024.

I have a marijuana-related offense on my criminal record. Can I get it sealed?

The new legislation allows certain records to be sealed. However, due to technological barriers, record sealing likely won’t begin until July 1, 2025. The law allows records to be sealed as soon as the involved state agencies are ready, but it is hard to predict how quickly they can set up the system.

No later than October 1, 2025, courts will begin automatically sealing the records of people who were previously arrested, charged, or convicted for simple possession of marijuana or for selling, giving, or distributing less than one ounce of marijuana.

Additionally, people with more serious marijuana charges on their records (such as selling more than one ounce of marijuana or any marijuana-related drug paraphernalia) will be able to petition a judge to have their records sealed starting July 1, 2025.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Got more questions or concerns?

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3 ways to use your weed stems

Weed stems can be a gray area for the average cannabis smoker.

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Can you smoke them? Should you smoke them?

If you find yourself wondering this very thing, you’re not alone. It’s a common question we get from people who are new to smoking cannabis. And since no question is a dumb question when it comes to having a great cannabis experience, let’s unpack all the details on weed stems.

What are weed stems?

Weed stems are the small, stick-like pieces that sometimes end up in the cannabis flower you buy from the dispensary. Depending on the quality of flower you bought, you may end up with a few or more stems in your haul. For example, shake bought from dispensaries tends to contain more stems than non-shake flower. Unlike the dense buds of the cannabis plant, weed stems contain very little to no THC (the main active ingredient in cannabis).

Can you smoke weed stems?

Although you may be tempted to, you should not smoke weed stems. Smoking stems from cannabis plants will not get you high due to their lack of THC. If you do decide to smoke stems, you’ll likely experience a few of the negative side effects that come with smoking, like coughing and sore throat, without the fun of a THC high.

In other words, it’s simply not worth it.

Alternative uses for weed stems

The good news is your stems don’t have to go to waste. Although you can’t smoke them, stems still have some surprisingly useful purposes in life. Here are a few of the most popular ways people are making good use out of their weed stems.

1. Cannabutter

Did you know you can use discarded weed stems to help make a cannabis-infused butter? If you have a good amount of stems saved up, toss them in with the rest of your flower when you start the decarboxylation process. These stems won’t bring any potency to your final product, but they will add some cannabis-inspired umami. Butter containing cannabis is a good thing to have on hand because it is the foundation of most edible recipes.

2. Cannabis topicals

Much like the infused butter recipe, you can decarboxylate any leftover weed stems with 7-10 grams of dried cannabis. After this process has been completed, you can infuse the cannabis and stems with coconut oil. This creates the base for many cannabis topical recipes, like lip balms and lotions.

3. Cannabis tea

Another excellent way to make use of your stems is by making a cannabis-infused tea. Cannatea is a good choice for when you only have a small number of stems you want to use.

For example, our cannabis-infused tea recipe only requires 2 teaspoons of weed stems and is ready to drink in about ten minutes. This recipe is flexible and allows you to customize with different tea flavors until you find your ideal combination.

Start saving your weed stems

As you can see, the life of a weed stem can go above and beyond the time it spends in your grinder. If you want to get better about keeping your stems (given your new knowledge of their magic), we recommend that you keep a jar to collect your weed stems over time. That way, you’ll always have a fresh stash ready when you want to tackle any of these projects.

What do you think about cannabis stems?

Have you done anything special with your leftover weed stems? Are they more useful than we originally thought? We want to hear about it! Join the conversation on Twitter, or leave us a comment below.

Weed stems: here’s what you should (and shouldn’t) do with them

They supported your buds all the way to harvest, but when it’s time to smoke, for most of us it’s no stems, no seeds, no exceptions. Stems don’t need to bring you down, though, and if you grow your own herb, here are some things you can do with the stems you don’t just throw in the compost.

Can you smoke weed stems?

Yes, you can smoke weed stems. You can also smoke pencil shavings, that doesn’t mean that you should.

Weed stems are more fibrous than the buds of the plant, so they’ll burn hotter and produce a harsher smoke that can also give you a headache. That wouldn’t matter too much if there was enough THC in the stems, but unlike the buds, there simply isn’t that much THC at all, meaning you’ll give yourself a harsh smoke for no good reason.

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Can you eat weed stems?

Yes, you can eat weed stems, but it wouldn’t taste very good and it wouldn’t get you very high.

The stems contain very little THC, so you would need to chew a large amount (probably several grams) of weed stems, which could be a great source of fiber but not a great way to get high. Besides, you would also need to decarboxylate the stems first.

Yes, you can smoke weed stems. You can also smoke pencil shavings, that doesn’t mean that you should. (Shutterstock)

Can you get high off weed stems? How to extract THC from stems

Long before your friends and coworkers all had their favorite gummies brand, people across the world were using the flowers and leaves of cannabis to make hash. Be it Nepalese “temple ball hash,” black Indian “charas,” or sweet golden brown Moroccan hash, the same principles apply — use your hands and some basic tools to to remove the dry, THC-containing trichomes (also known as “kief”) from the flowers and leaves of the plants, and press it into hash.

But what if all you have are stems? While today’s cannabis flower very often contains more than 25% THC, with weed stems it’s been measured at just 0.03%.

This means you may need to get creative.

You can make “bubble hash” just like you would with cannabis flower or “sugar leaves” (the leaves that protrude from or surround the buds and have a healthy dusting of trichomes), though you may want to repeat the process one or two times to make sure you extract enough kief to make hash.

Traditional charas is made by rubbing live flowers and leaves between your hands and scraping off the resin. With stems, you can use the same method, though you will need much, much more plant material to get enough resin. This is a method that would work best for growers who may have a few ounces or more of stems just lying around.

Finally, you can pull the kief off the stems just like you would with flower or sugar leaves. Simply freeze the stems and then shake them repeatedly over a large, clean tray. Scoop up whatever kief falls off, and then scrape it together with a card.

Make tea with weed stems

Arguably the most surefire way to use stems is to make some tea. First, grind up a few grams (or around one tablespoon) of stems and then decarboxylate them in the oven. Take them out of the oven and put them in tea bags or a tied-up coffee filter and steep for about 7-10 minutes. You’ll want to add some honey or sweetener to mask the flavor.

Make edibles with weed stems

Weed stems can be used to make edibles if you first use them in a cannabutter recipe. Keep in mind though, it won’t be nearly as potent as cannabutter made with cannabis flower.

To make cannabutter with weed stems, melt about a cup of butter (225 grams) in a saucepan and add a cup of water and bring to a simmer. Add around 20 grams (or whatever you have) of ground, decarboxylated weed stems and continue to simmer for about 3-4 hours, stirring frequently. Take it off the heat, let it cool, and then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth into a container and refrigerate it until the butter hardens. If there is excess water that has separated from the butter in the container, feel free to toss it out.

With this new batch of cannnabutter you can whip up all types of cannabis edibles, just keep in mind it won’t be anywhere near as potent as butter made with cannabis flower.

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