Virginia’s narcotic laws include a wide variety of laws and regulations that determine and assess the punishments and penalties applicable towards offenders.
‘Narcotic drugs’ – as under Virginia legislation – cover all drugs notwithstanding to their means of production, whether chemically synthesized or naturally extracted. Moreover, it provides an extensive list including opiates (with heavy emphasis on their addictive properties) and their chemical derivatives and equivalents. Schedule 1 and 2 (narcotics) are treated with far greater severity than schedules 3 through 5.
Charges regarding the use of narcotics vary greatly based on numerous factors: distribution versus simple possession, the class of narcotics involved and whether it is a first offense charge or subsequent charge(s). In the case that a valid prescription cannot be provided by a pharmacy, all charges will be treated as felonies.
For a prescription to be valid, it must be individually typed out or printed in ink containing all personal information pertinent to the prescriber including name, address, signature (and date of signature) and phone number. Few details on the patient must also be included, with focus on the name.
According to West Virginia law, the simple possession of narcotics (Schedule 1 and 2 controlled substances), is treated as a felony, and may carry between 90 days and 9 months in a state correctional facility, accompanied by heavy fines that can weigh up to 1000 USD. The simple possession of counterfeit narcotics can grant a sentence equivalent in severity.
The distribution, or intent to distribute, is treated as a felony that potentially carries a sentence ranging from one to fifteen years in a federal or state correctional facility, accompanied by fines that may reach 25,000 USD. Distribution to minors or distribution within the vicinity of schools, recreational centers and community centers will greatly exacerbate the mentioned charges, with fines up to 100,000 USD, along with mandatory minimum sentences – notwithstanding first time offenders.
The transport of narcotics into the State of Virginia (given an intent to distribute is also proven) is treated seriously, carrying up to 40 years in federal prison, with fines that can sum up to one million USD. A compulsory ten year minimum sentence is set if the accused is not a first-time offender.
First-time offenders accused of ‘simple possession’ may pursue conditional discharge where the court will provide the defendant up to six months of probation. At the end, they may request to have all charges expunged, after which the arrest will be kept (permanently) confidential. This is to deter any second attempts at a conditional discharge.
In lights of the recent opiates crisis, numerous amendments have been made to laws such as ‘The Pharmacy Act’ and the ‘The Drug Control Act’ greatly increasing the difficulty of obtaining patient prescriptions and distribution permits. Workers in all medical fields are assigned strict quotas for drug distribution, along with exhaustive eligibility criteria in order to allow so. Now it is mandatory for veterinaries to follow special procedures when prescribing medication, with heavy emphasis on narcotics.