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In Pennsylvania, as with most states, it is illegal to possess, sell, deliver, cultivate or traffic marijuana. As with virtually every jurisdiction in America, marijuana use is very common in Montgomery County and the greater Philadelphia area. Certainly marijuana use is prevalent in PA’s universities and college campuses. Despite the widespread use it is also illegal in many cases. If you are facing charges for marijuana crimes you need the help of our Norristown defense attorneys handling marijuana crimes.
There is national push to legalize marijuana for medical purposes and even for recreational use. This is certainly a controversial topic: people who are against the legalization of marijuana (also known as weed, pot and herb among other names) typically argue that marijuana is a “gateway drug” that frequently leads to the use of harder street drugs, prescription narcotics and other controlled substances.
If you, or your child, has been arrested and charged with a marijuana crime it is imperative that you consult with a lawyer who is very well versed in Pennsylvania Marijuana Laws. Anyone facing a marijuana charge or under investigation should feel free to call Attorney Erik Petersen.
Pennsylvania’s criminal drug laws are set forth in the Pennsylvania Drug Device and Cosmetic Act (commonly referred to as the “Drug Act”). Marijuana (or “marihuana” as the word is spelled in the PA Drug Act) and is considered a Schedule 1 drug under Pennsylvania law meaning that it cannot be used lawfully for medical reasons.
Marijuana laws in PA are divided into two major categories: Possession with the Intent to Use (“Simple Possession”) and Possession With the Intent to Deliver (“PWID”).
Simple Possession Of Marijuana:
Marijuana possession in Pennsylvania with the intent to use (as opposed to deliver or distribute) is a misdemeanor.
Possession of 30 grams or less is defined by statute to be a “Small Amount” and is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Marijuana bags are often sold by the ounce or some fraction thereof (such as a half, quarter or eighth of an ounce). An ounce is equal to 28.50 grams.
Possession of more than 30 grams is punishable up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine.
People charged with possession of marijuana in Montgomery County, PA may be eligible for what is known as “Section 17 Probation”. Successful completion of Section 17 Probation results in the charges being dismissed after which they can be completely expunged from your criminal record.
Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana:
Selling marijuana, or possessing marijuana with the intent to sell it, is a felony in most cases. More substantial weight — or growing or possessing multiple individual plants — can result in mandatory minimum prison sentences as follows:
There is one exception to the general law in PA that PWID is a felony. Delivery of a Small Amount of marijuana (under 30 ounces) is a misdemeanor so long as there is no remuneration (payment). In other words, if a person shares a Small Amount of marijuana with a friend, this is a misdemeanor, not a felony.
Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana in a School Zone:
Selling marijuana, or possessing it with the intent to deliver it, in a School Zone results in additional penalties. A school zone is defined as any area within 1,000 feet of a school or within 250 feet of a playground. The penalties are severe: a mandatory sentence of 2 to 4 years imprisonment.
Some people have argued that the School Zone mandatory sentence is unfair as applied in urban areas because such a large percentage of the population lives — and interacts — near a school or playground. Prosecutors in some jurisdictions, such as Montgomery County, PA, have historically been aggressive in pursuing School Zone mandatory sentences in applicable cases.
Obviously, it is important to hire an experienced drug crime criminal defense attorney immediately if you are charged with, or suspected of, possessing any drug in a School Zone.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia:
Drug paraphernalia is defined as any device used for, or intended to be used for, using or storing illegal drugs. Possession of drug paraphernalia in PA is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
Medical Marijuana in Pennsylvania
There is a bill presently pending in the Pennsylvania Senate Appropriations Committee to legalize medical marijuana of the “seriously ill”. This bill will have the support of the public in Pennsylvania based on a recent poll which showed that over 80 percent of registered voters have no problem with an adult using marijuana if it is prescribed by a doctor for medicinal purposes.
More than half of the United States have laws legalizing marijuana for certain medical conditions including epilepsy, cancer and Parkinson’s. However unless (or until) it becomes lawful in Pennsylvania, possession of marijuana will continue to be a crime.
A drug crime of any sort, even a DUI of Marijuana, puts your freedom and future in jeopardy. Attempting to defend yourself for a drug crime charge in Pennsylvania, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, is generally unwise and will likely result in a worse disposition. It is important to hire a Cheltenham, PA drug crime defense lawyer so that you fully understand your rights and options and to ensure the best possible result.
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