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Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana

In Pennsylvania it is illegal to use or possess a small amount of marijuana for any purpose. Possession of a small amount of marijuana is considered an ungraded misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. Marijuana is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance. Medical marijauna has not been approved for use in Pennsylvania.

What Law Governs the Use of Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

The law making possession of a small amount marijuana illegal can be found in the Controlled Substances, Drugs, Device and Cosmetic Act at 35 Pa.C.S. §780-113 (a)(31). This section makes the following conduct illegal in regard to a small amount of marijuana:

  1. possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use;
  2. possessing a small amount of marijuana with the intent to distribute it but not to sell it;
  3. distribution of a small amount of marijuana.

A small amount of marijuana is defined as 30 grams or less of marijuana or 8 grams or less of hashish. If you possess more than 30 grams of marijuana you may be charged under the Possession of a Controlled Substance Statute 35 Pa.C.S. §780-113(a)(16). and you may be subject to harsher penalties.

What Are The Penalties for Possession of a Small Amount of Marijuana?

The maximum penalty for possessing a small amount of marijuana is 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Since the maximum sentence is 30 days, the sentencing judge can put you on probation for no more than 30 days. There are also driver's license suspension penalties for pleading guilty to possession of a small amount of marijuana. Any conviction for possessing or distributing a controlled substance in Pennsylvania results in a driver's license suspension. Upon receiving a certified record of your conviction for a small amount of marijuana, Penndot will suspend your driving privileges as follows:

  • 6 months for a first offense
  • 1 year for a offense
  • 2 years for a third offense.

Any possession or distribution offense under the Controlled Substance Act will count as a prior offense for license suspension purposes. Possession of Drug Paraphernalia does not carry a license suspension and for that reason attorneys will often have their clients take a plea to that charge.

If you plead guilty to a small amount of marijuana charge you will also have a permanent criminal record. Possessing a small amount of marijuana is considered an ungraded misdemeanor and will go on your "rap sheet" or National Crime Information Center (NCIC) sheet which is a national database that gives law enforcement agencies across the country access to criminal records. Your record will also be on file with Pennsylvania - Central Repository of criminal records and with local courts and the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. Currently, Pennsylvania does not allow for expungement of misdemeanors which would include a small amount of marijuana charge.

What Is Required to Charge Someone With Possession?

Anytime you are charged with a small amount of marijuana, the substance must be collected by the police and sent off to a laboratory to test the substance to verify that it is in fact marijuana. Typically, the lab report will be provided to you by the district attorney's office or the police officer on the day of the preliminary hearing. The lab test will show the content of the substance collected by police and its weight in grams.

Contact Us

There are many options available to you to avoid the permanent criminal record and license suspension that goes along with a marijuana charge.

Contact Jason Antoine, Pennsylvania Marijuana Defense Attorney at (610) 299-0295 to schedule a free consultation. At the consultation we will discuss your options on how to dispose of the charge such. We may be able to help in the following ways:

  • Negotiated dismissal of the Marijuana Charge at the preliminary hearing;
  • Plea deal to summary Disorderly Conduct which involves paying a fine and eligibility for expungement after 5 years;
  • ARD (expungement of the marijuana charge upon completion of the program);
  • Plead to Drug Paraphernalia which carries no license suspension.