With all the discussion of medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, and our own Governor Tom Wolfe telling the media that “we ought to decriminalize marijuana use,” it might be easy to think that the criminal penalties related to marijuana possession, distribution, and cultivation are a thing of the past. Not so, and certainly not at the present moment. While the introduction of medical marijuana laws and a state leader friendly to decriminalization may indeed be signs of a future Pennsylvania with very different marijuana laws, at present the statewide Pennsylvania criminal laws relating to marijuana are mostly unchanged, even if several localities around the state have relaxed their laws. State authorities fully retain their power to investigate and prosecute individuals for marijuana crimes, many of which involve potential jail sentences.
Possession of Marijuana Can Mean Up to a Year in Jail
Under current Pennsylvania law, it is illegal to possess marijuana without authorization under the state medical marijuana laws, which have not fully gone into effect yet. A person found to possess less than 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams or less of hashish oil or concentrates can face up to 30 days in jail as well as a $500 fine. Persons possessing more than those amounts (over 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish oils or concentrates) can face up to $5,000 in fines and up to 1 year in jail.
Currently, PA’s medical marijuana laws will protect only those individuals with a “serious medical condition” and will only allow them to purchase certain types of cannabis extract products (e.g. pills or oils) from licensed distributors. No personal cultivation and/or possession of marijuana flowers will be allowed.
Furthermore, marijuana remains illegal under federal law, meaning federal authorities can still take action against any person found to possess, cultivate, or distribute marijuana, regardless of state or local laws.
Cultivation and Distribution of Marijuana Can Mean Felony Charges
Pennsylvania state laws are even harsher with regard to cultivation and distribution of marijuana. Sale/distribution of less than 1,000 pounds of marijuana is a felony with a maximum of sentence of 3 years in prison, and sale of more than that amount is a felony with a ten-year maximum prison sentence. Simply “gifting” marijuana for free to another without compensation is also a misdemeanor that can mean 30 days in jail.
As stated above, cultivation of marijuana is punishable by jail in Pennsylvania, even if it is for your personal use. The penalty for cultivation – even without intent to sell – is up to five years in prison.
Your PA Marijuana Sentence Can Vary Widely
All that said, judges in Pennsylvania do have discretion in what types of penalties they hand down in marijuana convictions. Probation is an option in many first-time marijuana convictions, and judges can work within a range of sentences to fit the situation. Judges can also increase the penalties for marijuana convictions where there have been previous convictions.
If you are under investigation, arrest, or facing trial for a marijuana crime in Pennsylvania, it is thus essential to work with experienced criminal defense counsel to work towards your best outcome in your matter, including reduced criminal penalties.
Speak with a PA Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with or are under investigation for any drug-related crime in Pennsylvania, The Martin Law Firm, P.C., in Montgomery County, may be able to help. Contact us today for a free consultation with a PA criminal defense attorney today to discuss your circumstances.