The Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Pennsylvania

While some states throughout the U.S. have legalized marijuana for medicinal and recreational purposes, Pennsylvania is not yet one of them. As such, the possession of this Schedule I substance is considered a serious crime and a conviction on these charges could result in significant penalties. The Pennsylvania State Police report that in June of 2014 alone, more than 1,800 people were arrested for possession of marijuana. The consequences that those charged with this drug crime face vary depending on the amount of marijuana that is found in a person’s possession, as well as his or her prior record.

Under Pennsylvania state law, possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use, and not distribution, is a misdemeanor offense. For the purposes of the law, a small amount is considered eight grams of hashish or 30 grams or less of marijuana. For a first time conviction of this charge, people could face a maximum of 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $500 or both. Those people who have more than 30 grams of marijuana in their possession, and do not plan to sell it, could face up to one year in jail, a maximum fine of $5,000 or both. These penalties are in addition to any administrative or civil penalties, or legally authorized sanctions.

A subsequent conviction on possession of marijuana for personal use carries enhanced penalties. Pennsylvania state law stipulates that after an initial conviction, people may face a jail sentence of up to twice the term of a first time conviction. Additionally, they could be fined twice the amount that an initial conviction allows.

Being charged with or convicted of possession of marijuana could have a significant impact on a person’s future. As such, it may benefit those facing such charges to consult with a legal representative. Working with an attorney may help them to understand their rights and options, as well as establish a defense.