Growing Marijuana for Personal Use is Still a Felony
Marijuana Growing Operation in City of Chicago
In today’s news, Yahoo posted an article that over 1,500 marijuana plants were found growing in one area on the South Side of Chicago, and the marijuana had an estimated value of approximately $10 million. The article stated that some of the marijuana plants were taller than basketball players, which means some of the plants would have been over 7 feet tall. The marijuana plants were grouped on a plot of land approximately the size of two football fields. Law enforcement discovered the marijuana plants as they were returning a police helicopter to its hangar, and the marijuana was growing approximately 3 miles from the hangar. Ironically, police helicopters routinely flew over the area on the way to and from the hangar yet never noticed the marijuana growing below.
Growing Marijuana is a Felony – No Personal Use Exception
In Pennsylvania, if a person merely possesses marijuana with the intent to personally use it, they are charged with a misdemeanor offense of marijuana possession. If the police can show that the marijuana is possessed with the intent to be delivered or was in fact delivered to another person, then the charge of marijuana possession is a felony offense. Therefore, if a person is in possession of marijuana or any other drug, whether the person intended to use it or sell it is a critical issue that directly impacts the grading of the charge that is filed.
Some people mistakenly believe that growing marijuana for their personal use is not as severe an offense as growing marijuana to sell it. While Pennsylvania law does distinguish between possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver or intent to use, no such personal use exception is applicable to growing marijuana. Growing marijuana, technically called “manufacturing,” is a felony charge in Pennsylvania, and carries a maximum sentence of up to 5 years incarceration.
Penn State Marijuana Growers Face “School Zone” Mandatory Sentences
I have represented numerous Penn State students that decided that they would save some money and grow their own marijuana. They were unaware of the severe consequences associated with manufacturing marijuana. Since most Penn State students either live on campus or in downtown State College, the students were likely growing the marijuana within a “school zone.” In Pennsylvania, growing, delivering, or possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver in a school zone is punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence of 2 years incarceration. Many Penn State students that wanted to be frugal and grow their own marijuana learn that such an endeavor leads to felony charges and a possible 2 year mandatory sentence. Simply stated, Penn State students that grow that grow their own weed may spend 2 years in a state prison.