Marijuana Possession Charges
Marijuana is one of the most widely used illegal substances today, with many groups advocating for its legalization. Today, use of marijuana is legally allowed in some states and cities.
However, cannabis is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, and the severity of a bust for marijuana possession may depend on who did the arresting and which laws were being enforced.
If you’ve been arrested on drug charges, it’s important to know you legal rights and what options you have to fight the charge. Get peace of mind by speaking with a local criminal defense attorney. You can arrange a no-obligation consultation today by filling out the free case review form below right now.
Cannabis “Possession” Under the Law
Marijuana possession is considered a drug crime. “Possession” may include more situations than you think:
- Marijuana among your personal belongings, such as in your pockets, bag, purse or backpack
- Marijuana in your vehicle
- Marijuana in your home
- Marijuana paraphernalia, such as pipes or seeds, in your home, car or your belongings
In each of these instances, the law doesn’t care who the marijuana belongs to. So if you someone brings marijuana into your house or leaves it in your car, even if wasn’t “yours,” you could still be charged with a drug crime.
Also, multiple people can “possess” the same marijuana. So if you are in a car with three friends, and there is marijuana in the car, in some cases all of you could face possession charges.
Marijuana law typically places marijuana into a sub-category of illegal drugs. In short, not all illegal drugs are equal, and possession of one may carry a harsher penalty than possession of another.
The actual drug charges brought with regard to marijuana possession will depend on the circumstances of your case. Also, drug possession may be one of several drug charges brought about by one arrest. If you are found with marijuana, you may be charged with:
- Possession: Sometimes classified as simple possession, this charge is associated with smaller amounts of marijuana.
- Intent to distribute: If you are caught with a certain amount of marijuana – above a limit set by the law – you could be charged with possession with intent to distribute even if you have done nothing but possess the drug. This charge is more serious than marijuana possession and comes with harsher penalties.
- Trafficking/transporting: Similar to intent to distribute, these charges are typically associated with larger amounts of marijuana and arrests made in-transit. For instance, if you are caught with pot in a car, on a boat or while trying to board a plane, you could be subject to trafficking laws.
- Possession of paraphernalia: This law adds additional charges to anyone found with marijuana paraphernalia. This could include pipes, seeds or any other equipment used to smoke, transport or grow marijuana.
- Cultivation: Growing marijuana, for personal use or for distribution, is against the law. Growing marijuana may bring about charges including possession, distribution and possession of paraphernalia.
- DUI and DWI: While most people think about alcohol when they think of driving under the influence, most states’ DUI and DWI laws include provisions for anyone driving under the influence of marijuana.
- Weapons charges: If you are arrested for possession of marijuana you may also be subject to weapons charges that may not otherwise apply. For example, in some states a a person arrested for drug possession may be charged with possession of a weapon or the drug charge enhanced because of the presence of a weapon based on something as innocent as a baseball bat.
Keep in mind that these marijuana charges don’t cancel each other out.
It is possible, for example, that one arrest could lead to charges of possession, possession of paraphernalia and DUI.
Also, the three-strikes law, in certain states, may affect your penalties.
An attorney can help you better understand your charges.
Marijuana Possession Penalties
Marijuana possession, like most drug crimes in the United States, is subject to harsh punishments. It’s not uncommon for a drug sentence to include decades in prison.
The penalties for marijuana possession can vary depending upon whether you were charged at the state or federal level. Both jurisdictions contain mandatory minimum sentencing, which can be very serious.
Mandatory minimum sentencing means that if you are convicted of a crime, regardless of circumstances or your previous record, the judge has no choice but to hand down a particular sentence, often lengthy jail time.
Drug rehabilitation, coupled with expensive fines and court costs, is a common penalty for lesser marijuana charges and first-time offenders.
Marijuana Possession: A Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Protect Your Rights
Drug laws can seem strict and intimidating. And why not? The thought of a first-offender getting 20 years in jail isn’t easy to stomach.
If you’ve been charged with marijuana possession or any drug crime, speak with an attorney near you today. A defense lawyer can stand up for you and help you protect your rights.
A marijuana possession conviction can affect you for the rest of your life. Don’t leave this business in the hands of amateurs. A lawyer can tell you about your options for defending your case, and help you avoid costly mistakes. Find out if your marijuana arrest can be challenged. Contact a criminal lawyer today!
To speak with a defense attorney near you, simply fill out the form on this page.
The above summary of marijuana possession is by no means all-inclusive and is not intended to provide legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on marijuana possession laws and penalties, speak to a criminal defense attorney in your area.