Drive through a familiar city in Virginia (or anywhere) you haven’t visited recently, and you’ll likely find multiple cannabis stores dotting the streets. As restrictions relax across the country, dispensaries are on the rise. 

But in Old Dominion, marijuana users must be cautious. There’s a lot of federal ground throughout the state, and even with a Virginia MMJ card, weed is illegal in those areas.

Still, it’s possible to buy cannabis from a safe and responsible marijuana dispensary in Virginia. All you need to do is follow these tips!

1. Skip the Home-Grown Purchases

There’s a fine line between legal and illegal purchases and possession of cannabis, whether you’re on federal property or not. For one thing, you must be 21 years or older. Period. 

If you’re under 21, marijuana is prohibited, and that’s constant across the country. However, if you have a medical marijuana card, you can buy it from a dispensary at the age of 18. Those under 18 with MMJ cards must have a licensed caregiver make their purchases for them.

But there’s a caveat: You can’t have more than one ounce of cannabis in your possession or in a public place, and your MMJ purchases are limited to four ounces every 30 days. So, to get around that, some people grow their own stash.

Legally, a household can have up to four plants, provided the growers follow the home cultivation laws. They can even share one ounce or less with another adult. But they can’t sell, and you can’t buy from them. 

Per Virginia law, it is illegal to distribute or sell marijuana or to possess it while intending to sell it. Even businesses can’t sell or gift marijuana unless they’re licensed dispensaries.

2. Check Virginia’s Approved Dispensary List

Now that you’ve crossed your friend or neighbor’s home stash off your list, it’s time to look for legal dispensaries. These businesses vary, so it’s best to check the official approved dispensary list.

Cannabis is regulated by Virginia’s Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA). Approved establishments must be licensed to possess and dispense medical marijuana and any related paraphernalia. 

They can sell to licensed patients and caregivers only. They may only sell products they receive from a DC-licensed and located cultivator of medical cannabis.

Virginia is broken into wards, and each ward is allotted a limited number of dispensaries. To be eligible to apply as a government-approved dispensary, retailers can’t be within 300 feet of any school through secondary levels or recreation centers. They can’t co-locate with another business or exist in a residential district.

Some gift shops offer recreational weed. They get around the legalities because they don’t sell it; they offer it as a “gift” when you order other items, and it can be delivered to your door. 

However, Virginia laws recognize this loophole and have worked to close it. Gifting in 2023 isn’t as safe as it was a year ago. Instead of taking the chance, sign up for your medical marijuana card and buy from licensed dispensaries.

3. Map Your Nearest Dispensary

As of 2023, there were seven government-approved, licensed medical marijuana dispensaries distributed throughout all the wards in Virginia. But the one in your ward might not be as close to you as a shop across your neighboring boundary.

Provided you buy weed within the state of your MMJ license, you can purchase from any approved retailer. Head to Virginia’s medical cannabis shop list and plug the addresses into your GPS. Look for the nearest retailer, then visit their website and look for reviews.

While you’re scrolling through their site, you’ll want to make sure they have your preferred marijuana strains and products. Many states prohibit the types of cannabis products dispensaries may sell. In Virginia, you can buy vapes, tinctures, edibles, live rosin, flowers, and topicals. You can’t buy seeds.

Dispensaries can offer a variety of strains, including Indica, Sativa, and hybrids. Talk to your doctor or the staff at your favorite shop to see which strain is best for your ailments.


Let’s face it. Cannabis is a massive and lucrative industry, and everyone wants to get in on the action. That’s why you see CBD and THC products for sale or “gifting” almost anywhere you go.

But if you want a safe, responsible way to get your weed without worrying about the legal status, not to mention what you’re putting in your body, you need to shop at a licensed dispensary.