Marijuana is the most often abused illegal drug in the US. Marijuana possession is unlawful under federal law, and even small amounts may result in jail time for first-time offenders. While a rising number of states have defied federal law by decriminalizing or legalizing specific marijuana usage, possession remains illegal in many.
Marijuana possession convictions are usually less severe than marijuana selling or trafficking offenses. When it comes to tiny amounts of marijuana, several states have decreased punishments, especially for first-time offenders. Here’s some information on how states are dealing with marijuana possession crimes at the low end of the scale
Penalties For Civil Offences And Fines Alone
Even though marijuana is still classified as an unlawful Schedule I narcotic by the federal government, several states have decriminalized small amounts of the drug. Possession is still illegal in “decriminalized” states, although the penalty is usually a civil fee or a minor criminal offense that does not carry a sentence to prison.
Alternatives To Prison
Even in places where tiny quantities of marijuana are illegal, many have moved away from harsh punishments for low-level infractions and now provide alternatives to incarceration. Non-jail options allow criminals to seek therapy while avoiding a criminal record.
For first-time offenders charged with small-scale marijuana possession, some states provide diversion. If the offender agrees to and completes counseling, treatment, or other conditions, diversion can be used as an alternative to prosecution or conviction.
Some states allow courts to postpone imposing punishment in favor of placing the offender on probation. A defendant must comply with specific terms as part of this agreement. Probation conditions, like diversion, generally contain a mix of requirements such as fulfilling a particular number of community service hours, enrolling in substance addiction programs or treatment, and so on.
Probation Rather Than Jail
If a court grants probation instead of prison time when the punishment is imposed (rather than deferred), the defendant can still escape jail time. During the probationary term, the defendant’s jail sentence hangs over his head. A criminal must follow all probation requirements and not commit any additional offenses to avoid going to jail. If you’ve been charged with or cited for marijuana possession, you should speak with an expert criminal defense lawyer like Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. An attorney can clarify the legislation in your state, including whether or not there are any rehabilitation-focused “drug courts” that might be employed.