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Penalties for marijuana possession in Philadelphia


There are many people in Philadelphia who smoke marijuana. It is a relatively common drug and generally thought to be not as dangerous as other drugs. However, smoking marijuana is still a crime. Just as it is illegal to use, it is also illegal to sell or grow marijuana, as well. The penalties can be fairly severe, depending on the circumstances, if one is convicted of the crime.

Recently, Philadelphia passed a city ordinance that allows police officers to issue citations to people who are caught smoking marijuana in public or who possess less than an ounce, instead of arresting them. The penalties also were reduced. However, if the person possesses more than an ounce, he or she is still subject to the normal penalties.

These penalties increase based on the amount of marijuana that a person possesses. Possession of a small amount of marijuana, which means 30 grams or less and no intent to sell it to others, has the least severe consequences. The penalty is up to 30 days in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.

However, if a person is involved in selling large amounts of marijuana, the penalties become much more serious. If a person is convicted of possessing between two and ten pounds of marijuana, he or she could go to jail for one year and be ordered to pay a $5,000 fine or more, depending on how much he or she profited from selling the marijuana. If the person possesses between 10 and 50 pounds of marijuana, then he or she will face three years in jail and a $15,000 fine or more. If an individual has more than 50 pounds of marijuana, the penalty is five years in jail and a $50,000 fine or more.

Furthermore, these are just the penalties for a first-time offender. If the person has a previous drug trafficking conviction, the penalties for each amount of marijuana increases dramatically.

Even though possession of marijuana is relatively common in Philadelphia and penalties for a very small amount recently were reduced, it is still a crime. If a person is caught selling it, he or she could be facing serious consequences, including mandatory jail time. Experienced attorneys understand these consequences and potential defenses and may be able to help protect one's rights.

Source: Pennsylvania General Assembly, "Drug Trafficking sentencing and penalties" accessed January 26, 2015

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