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What are Pennsylvania’s Marijuana Laws?

Marijuana has recently made the news as several states have legalized the use of the drug, creating buzz in other states, such as Pennsylvania, about making similar changes. In fact, in 2014, Michael Nutter, mayor of Philadelphia, signed an ordinance that allowed individuals to possess up to one ounce of marijuana for their personal use. This has greatly reduced the number of arrests for marijuana possession, but it remains an issue among those who deal in it, as well as those who may be heavier users. Understanding Pennsylvania’s laws can help you determine what charges you could face if caught dealing or in possession of larger amounts of marijuana.

In Pennsylvania, marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule 1 drug. This means that marijuana is regarded as having a significant potential for abuse with no medical value. Possession, sale, and/or cultivation of a Schedule 1 drug can result in monetary and incarceration penalties under Pennsylvania state law.

Marijuana Possession Laws

The most common marijuana charges many people face is for possession. While it is legal to carry up to an ounce for personal use in Philadelphia, other areas of the state still don’t allow individuals to possess any amount. For those who are caught carrying up to 30 mg, Pennsylvania law states the individual will be charged with a misdemeanor that can carry up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine. For a first offense, a judge may offer a year on probation instead. In cases where an individual is carrying more than this amount, the potential consequences of the misdemeanor increase to on year in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. After the first offense, repeat offenders will not be able to forego jail time or the fines by getting probation instead.

Intent to Sell Marijuana

In addition to possession, individuals in Pennsylvania can be charged with the sale and distribution of marijuana. These charges can range from a simple misdemeanor with minimal consequences up to more serious felony charges that can lead to an extensive criminal record. This is one of the most important areas of marijuana law you should fully understand to protect yourself. If you are caught trying to sell up to 30 mg, you will face similar misdemeanor consequences to possessing a similar amount. However, selling anything beyond 30 mg will result in felony charges that carry more serious consequences. The penalty for selling or distributing larger amounts ranges from one year in jail and $5,000 in fines for one to two pounds up to 10 years in jail and $10,000 in fines for more than 1,000 pounds. These consequences double when individuals sell to minors.

Pot Tourism Could Land You in Jail in Pennsylvania

While purchasing and smoking marijuana for recreational use may be legal in Colorado and Washington, its lingering chemical composition in a user’s bloodstream could spell trouble in Pennsylvania.

DUID aka “Driving Under the Influence of Drugs” Laws

Pennsylvania also has very stringent DUID laws. Many Pennsylvania residents are unaware that the DUID laws apply to “drugged driving” aka driving under the influence of a Schedule 1 drug.

If you are stopped while driving in Pennsylvania and are suspected of operating the vehicle while under the influence, you can be remanded to a hospital for a blood test. In the case of the active ingredient in marijuana, THC, the measurement set as the minimum for impairment under PA state law is 1 nano-gram per milliliter of THC in the blood. This means that weeks or even months after smoking, depending on the user’s physical characteristics, there could be sufficient THC left in the blood sample to result in a DUID charge.

Pennsylvania DUID Penalties

  • First offense (misdemeanor) – imprisonment for a minimum of 72 consecutive hours, maximum imprisonment of 6 months; fine of not less than $1,000, not more than $5,000; offender required attend alcohol highway safety school; license suspension of at least 18 months; offender may be required to complete 150 hours of community service; offender may be required to attend a victim-impact panel.
  • Second offense (misdemeanor) – imprisonment for a minimum of 90 days, maximum imprisonment of 6 months; fine of not less than $1,500; offender required to attend alcohol highway safety school; license suspension of at least 18 months; offender may be required to complete 150 hours of community service; offender may be required to attend a victim-impact panel.
  • Third and subsequent offense (2nd degree misdemeanor) – minimum imprisonment for 1 year; fine of not less than $2,500; license suspension of at least 18 months; offender may be required to complete 150 hours of community service; offender may be required to attend a victim-impact panel.

Zero Tolerance in Pennsylvania

Currently, Pennsylvania has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to DUID. It’s important that all Pennsylvania residents who are interested in enjoying legal, recreational marijuana in other jurisdictions understand the risks they will be exposed to when they return home.

Other Marijuana Laws

While possession and distribution are the two most common charges, there are others you may face based on your actions. Pennsylvania law addresses several other marijuana-related laws.

  • Cultivation of any number of marijuana plants carries felony charges that result in between one and five years in jail and $15,000 in fines.
  • Possession of hash and concentrates depends on the amount carried and can range from 30 days to five years and $500 and $15,000 in fines.
  • Sale or possession of marijuana paraphernalia carries a misdemeanor of 1 year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
  • Possession or sale of marijuana paraphernalia to a minor carries 2 years in jail and $5,000 in fines.

If you’re facing marijuana charges in Pennsylvania, it’s critical to make sure you have an experienced attorney on your side to help you fight the charges and get the minimal consequences. Marijuana charges can have serious consequences on your future. This is why it’s important to work with lawyers who have experience in this area, helping you navigate the court system and build a solid case in your favor.

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