With rising pressure to legalize and decriminalize marijuana, as well as increasing criticism of how federal and state police forces enforce drug laws, American drug law is in a strange state of flux. Much of the future of drug crime law rests on who the next president will be. Even so, it is important to understand how current drug laws operate and what the current penalties are.
Several states, like California, Washington and most famously Colorado have fully legalized marijuana at the recreational level. This means that anyone can freely obtain and use marijuana in the state, as long as they are of legal age. Several other states have legalized medical marijuana, which means that someone can obtain and consume it with a doctor’s prescription. A few states and cities like Atlanta have decriminalized marijuana; while it is not legal to obtain and consume, people in these cities will no longer be arrested for being caught with marijuana in their possession. However, marijuana has not been decriminalized at the federal level, meaning that in many parts of the country a small amount of it could lead to arrest. In these places where it is still illegal, marijuana offenses can be treated like any other drug crime.
Different Drug Crimes
American drug crime falls into two categories: possession and distribution. These categories are generally based on the weight of the drugs found in the person’s possession. Below is a general list of the different punishments based on weight. Below is Texas’s drug crimes range, which is emblematic of how drug crimes are categorized in America as a whole:
- Less than 1 gram: State jail felony, up to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
- 1-4 grams: 2nd-degree felony, 2-20 years, and a fine of up to $10,000.
- 4-200 grams:1st-degree felony, 5-99 years, and up to a $10,000 fine.
- 200-400 grams: 1st-degree enhanced felony, 10-99 years in prison, and a fine of up to $100,000.
- 400 grams or more: 1st-degree enhanced felony, life in prison or 15-99 years, and a fine of up to $250,000.
Generally, “intent to distribute” is assumed if a person is found with more than four grams of any illicit substance found in their possession. Some states are more generous, with Louisiana allowing up to 35 grams before they charge for intent to sell. others, like South Carolina, will charge for intent to sell for possession of more than one gram. If you or someone you know has been charged with possession, call a criminal defense attorney like from Morales Law Firm, today.