31 states have decriminalized possession of marijuana in the United States and 18 have legalized recreational use, but Pennsylvania is not one of them. As a result, anyone caught with marijuana in the state can face criminal charges.
Will Pennsylvania ever legalize marijuana?
It may. Lawmakers in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania are currently considering the legalization of recreational marijuana. The proposal, though not yet officially introduced, was part of a hearing in February. The hearing brought together the state legislature to try to refine a bill that would receive bipartisan support.
Although it is possible lawmakers could move this type of legislation forward in the future, it is not much help to those who are currently charged with crimes related to marijuana. If in this situation, there is the possibility that a law passed in the future could apply retroactively and help you to fight a conviction — the best path is to avoid the conviction in the first place. As a result, those in this situation right now are wise to focus on present law, penalties, and potential defense strategies.
What are the penalties for marijuana crimes in Pennsylvania?
It depends on the amount. Even a small amount can result in prison time. If you have 30 grams or less, which is really just over an ounce, you can face up to 30 days imprisonment and a fine of up to $500. Even smoking in public can come with a fine of $100.
The penalties get even more severe if the police claim that you have a large amount of marijuana. Possession of 2 to 10 pounds of marijuana or up to 21 live plants can result in one-year imprisonment and $5,000 in fines. If 10 to 50 pounds or 21 to 51 live plants, three years imprisonment and $15,000 in fines, and 50 or more pounds or 51 or more plants, five years imprisonment and $50,000 in fines.
These penalties can increase if you have a criminal record or there are additional charges.
What should I do if the police claim I had possession of marijuana?
First, take the matter seriously. It will not just go away. It is important to review the evidence gathered by the police and look into how they are supporting their charges. If they do not follow proper protocol, the charges may not stand. It is also important to explore other potential defense strategies. These will vary depending on the details of the situation. An attorney experienced in this area of the law can review your case and help to better ensure your legal rights are protected.