State College Marijuana Possession Lawyer
Pennsylvania allows for the medical use of marijuana, but a person must follow strict rules for that program wtih regard to the purchase, storage, transportation, and consumption of the marijuana in order to avoid prosecution. For example, a person can only purchase marijuana from a state-approved dispensary. Purchasing marijuana on the street or growing one’s own marijuana remains illegal and will result in the filing of misdemeanor or felony drug charges. For some additional, basic information about medical marijuana in Pennsylvania, go here.
Felony or Misdemeanor? Quantity of Marijuana Is an Important Factor
Whether or not a possession of marijuana charge is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony offense is often based upon whether or not the police believe that the person had the intent to use the marijuana or the intent to sell it. A primary factor in the personal use versus intent to deliver analysis is the quantity of marijuana involved. The larger the amount, the more likely it is that the police will file a felony charge of Possession With Intent to Deliver, in violation of 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(30). For example, if a person is caught with three pounds of marijuana, the person is likely to be charged with a felony Possession With Intent to Deliver, whereas a person caught with three grams is likely to face the misdemeanor Small Amount of Marijuana charge. If a person grows their own marijuana, the charge is normally a felony offense of Manufacturing regardless of the number of plants. Some officers are more lenient and may choose to file a misdemeanor possession offense for only a few small plants, but most officers will file the felony Manufacturing charge.
A felony conviction generally results in a more severe sentence being imposed by a judge. Felony convictions also result in the loss of gun rights, and felony convictions often make it more difficult for a person to get a job or rent an apartment based upon criminal background checks.
Misdemeanor marijuana charges are less severe than a felony delivery or possession with intent to deliver charge, but they still would result in a criminal record and have the following maximum sentences:
- If there are less than 30 grams of marijuana, the charge is Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana under 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(31) and is punishable by a maximum sentence of 30 days incarceration and a $500 fine
- If more than 30 grams of marijuana is possessed, then the charge is Simple Possession of Marijuana under 35 P.S. 780-113(a)(16) and punishable by a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $5,000 fine for a first offense – subsequent offenses can be punished by up to 3 years in jail and a $25,000 fine
First-Time Offender of Marijuana Possession
Many first-time offenders of relatively minor offenses, including State College Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia charges, are eligible to participate in diversionary programs that allow for the dismissal and then expungement of the charges. In Centre County, most first-time offenders or people with minimal criminal histories that are charged with misdemeanor marijuana and paraphernalia possession are eligible to participate in the Misdemeanor Marijuana Diversionary Program (MMDP). In other countes, prosecutors often use a different program called Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD). With both programs, successful completion allows for the dismissal and then expungement of the records.
Contact an experienced State College marijuana possession lawyer at (814) 689-9139 or via email for a free consultation.