Marijuana Charges

One of the most popular drugs in Pennsylvania, especially in Philadelphia, is marijuana. Also known as cannabis, pot, ganja, bud, chronic, reefer, and grass, the dangers and benefits of the drug have been compared to those of alcohol. However, despite its popularity and the debate concerning its use, pot is still illegal in Pennsylvania.

This means that charges concerning marijuana, such as possession of cannabis, sale or delivery of chronic, and possession or sale of reefer paraphernalia can come with harsh penalties in Pennsylvania. It is important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer at your side to help defend your rights and fight to protect your freedom.

Philadelphia Marijuana Defense Lawyer

With marijuana a generally polarizing issue within the War on Drugs, it is important to hire a Philadelphia marijuana defense attorney with extensive experience in the Pennsylvania legal system when you are faced with one or more cannabis charges. Joseph Lento has nearly a decade of experience in various facets of the Pennsylvania justice system, and founded his practice at Lento Law Firm with providing high-quality legal services to the people who need help most in mind.

If you have been charged with pot possession, trafficking in cannabis, or another marijuana charge in Philadelphia, call Joseph Lento at (215) 535-5353 today to schedule your free one on one consultation.

An Overview of Pennsylvania's Marijuana Laws

Common Marijuana Crimes

What constitutes a marijuana crime is defined in 5 P.S. §§ 780-101 – 780-144, also known as the Pennsylvania Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device, and Cosmetic Act. The definition of marijuana is found in 35 P.S. §780-104(1)(iv). Some of the more common Philadelphia offenses against these Pennsylvania marijuana laws include:

Possession of Marijuana – 30 Grams or Less

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Up to $500 fine

Possession of Marijuana – 30 Grams or More

  • Up to 1 year in jail
  • Up to $5,000 fine

Distribution of Marijuana Without Monetary Exchange – 30 Grams or Less

  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • Up to $500 fine

Sale, Delivery, or Distribution of Marijuana – 1,000 Pounds or Less

  • Felony
  • 1-3 years in prison
  • $5,000 - $25,000

Sale, Delivery, or Distribution of Marijuana– 1,000 Pounds or More

  • Felony
  • Up to 10 years in prison
  • Up to $100,000 fine

Sale, Delivery, or Distribution of Marijuana – Within 1,000 Feet of School

  • 2-4 years of prison

Sale, Delivery, or Distribution of Marijuana – Within 250 Feet of Recreational Playground

  • 2-4 years of prison

Sale, Delivery, or Distribution to Minor of Marijuana – Seller is over 21

  • Doubles possible penalties for amount of pot sold

Possession or Sale of Marijuana Paraphernalia

  • Up to 1 year of jail
  • Up to $2,500 fine

Possession or Sale of Marijuana Paraphernalia

  • Up to 2 years of jail
  • Up to $5,000 fine

Marijuana Possession in Philadelphia

Philadelphia changed its local marijuana laws in 2014, making some possession offenses a civil penalty. It now is considered a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense to possess 30 grams or less of marijuana. If a person is caught possessing 30 grams or less, he or she will be cited and fined $25.

If a person is caught smoking marijuana in public, he or she will be cited and fined $100 or made to perform nine hours of community service. This also is considered a civil offense. Additionally, police officers will confiscate any of the substance they find, but the offenders will have the benefit of not having a criminal record.

The substance still is considered illegal in Philadelphia. This means possessing more than 30 grams and dealing or trafficking the substance regardless of weight still is considered a criminal offense.

Philadelphia Marijuana Diversion Programs

First-time marijuana offenders may be eligible for an alternative sentencing or diversion program. These are determined on a case-by-case basis by the district attorney according to the provisions provided under the Pennsylvania accelerative rehabilitative disposition program legislation and other laws.

Generally, for a qualifying offender, the court will grant probation without verdict for the marijuana charge. If the offender completes probation and all the involved requirements, the cannabis offense will be dismissed and his or her criminal record will not reflect the pot charge.

Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Laws

As the controversy around whether pot is more harmful than cigarettes or alcohol as a recreational drug and therefore should or should not be legalized abounds, so does the controversy around medical marijuana. There are several studies that show the possible benefits of medical marijuana to specific medical conditions like pain from damaged nerves, glaucoma, movement disorders, and nausea from cancer treatments, as well as an effective appetite stimulant to individuals suffering from HIV and specific cancers.

In fact, many countries, 15 states in the U.S., and Washington D.C. have all passed legislation in favor of medical marijuana. However, this legislation has not yet reached Pennsylvania, and medical marijuana is as illegal as recreational marijuana. If you were using marijuana for medical purposes and are now facing drug charges, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Philadelphia marijuana defense attorney to begin protecting your rights immediately.

Common Defenses to Pot Arrests

Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be possible to get your case dismissed through a motion to suppress or other defense strategy. Though law enforcement officers are trained to be thorough and efficient, they are human and they do make mistakes.

If your rights are violated at any point in the process of being charged with a cannabis offense, your case could be reduced or thrown out. Common factors that negate or mitigate the marijuana case against you include:

  • The prosecution has insufficient evidence to charge you
  • Your identity was mistaken for another's
  • You have a valid alibi
  • The search of your person, home, or car was illegal
  • The arresting officer failed to read you your Miranda rights
  • Intent is an element of the charge, and you had no intent to commit the offense
  • You were entrapped by a Philadelphia law enforcement officer to commit the marijuana offense

Pennsylvania Resources for Marijuana Crimes

NORML - Philadelphia Chapter – This is the website for the local chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, dedicated to the legalization and responsible use of marijuana for and by adults, without the threat of criminal penalties.

Marijuana Policy Project – The Marijuana Policy Project, or MPP, seeks to increase public and political support of changing state marijuana laws. The website is a good resource to check on pending and current marijuana legislation.

Drug Policy Alliance – The goal of the DPA is to promote non-violent alternatives to the drug war based on the premises of science, health, and human rights.

Finding the Best Marijuana Lawyer in Philadelphia

If you have been charged with a marijuana offense in Pennsylvania, contact the experienced attorneys at Lento Law Firm today. Joseph Lento is committed to providing quality customer service while fighting for your rights and your freedom. He will use his multifaceted experience in the Pennsylvania justice system to make sure every defense to your case is explored. To schedule your free consultation, call today at (215) 535-5353.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania and New Jersey attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, or New Jersey should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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