Public attitudes towards marijuana use have shifted, with states moving towards legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use. On July 5, 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill allowing for compassionate use of medical marijuana in New York for individuals with qualifying conditions including multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Despite the recognition of weed as a drug with accepted medicinal use, marijuana remains classified as a Schedule I drug and possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana can still lead to arrest. Federal laws also conflict with NY state laws, putting medical marijuana users, growers, and dispensaries at risk.
If you are charged with a pot offense, you need to understand your rights. Bukh Law Firm PLLC. is a New York City criminal law firm with a strong track record of representing clients accused of drug crimes including marijuana offenses.
Call today to speak with a marijuana defense lawyer who can provide legal representation after you are cited or arrested.
New York Laws on Medical Marijuana: Charges and Penalties
New York Penal Law Section 221.05 defines unlawful possession of marijuana. If you have fewer than 25 grams of weed and do not have past convictions, you will be cited for a violation rather than arrested for a crime. The maximum penalty is a fine up to $100.
If you have past convictions within three years of a current arrest, you could be fined $200 for a second possession offense and $250 for a third offense. The third offense could also result in up to 15 days incarceration.
Because marijuana for personal use is now a violation in New York, the state is said to have decriminalized pot. However, if police declare your marijuana was “open to public view,” New York Penal Code Section 221.10 establishes that you could be found guilty of a Class B misdemeanor offense and face up to 90 days in jail.
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Possession of larger amounts of marijuana can also result in misdemeanor and even felony charges:
- Possession of two or more ounces of marijuana is a Class A misdemeanor under Penal Law Section 221.15. Penalties include up to a year in jail.
- Possession of eight or more ounces of weed is a Class E felony under Penal Law Section 221.20. Penalties could include between one year and 1.5 years in prison. Repeat offenders could face four years
- Possession of 16 or more ounces of marijuana is a Class D felony under Penal Law Section 221.25. A first offense can result in one to 2.5 years incarceration and a repeat offense could lead to four years incarceration.
Sales and trafficking of marijuana also result in more serious penalties. Larger volumes of pot in your possession, proof of profit from drug sales, or proof of selling to a minor can result in felony charges. An accusation of trafficking in marijuana could lead to 25-years in prison.
Because penalties vary significantly based on your criminal record and circumstances of arrest, it is important to speak with a New York City marijuana lawyer for help understanding possible consequences of conviction.
Federal Marijuana Offenses
Although New York has decriminalized weed, the federal government has not relaxed laws on the use or sale of cannabis products. A first conviction for simple possession of marijuana could result in up to a year incarceration if you are charged with a federal crime. A third conviction can result in a minimum of 90 days incarcerated and up to three years in prison.
Those involved in growing, trafficking, or selling cannabis can also be charged by federal authorities. Growing between 50 and 99 marijuana plants could result in 20 years incarceration and a fine up to $1,000,000.
Federal prosecutors may target anyone who violates marijuana laws, so those who avoid state prosecutor may still be charged in federal court. A NYC criminal defense lawyer at Bukh Law Firm PLLC. can provide representation if you are charged with a federal drug crime.
How a Weed Attorney Can Help
Options for responding to marijuana charges include pleading not guilty, or admitting guilt and negotiating a plea bargain. Options to avoid conviction may include suppressing evidence of weed collected illegally in violation of Fourth Amendment rights, or arguing that there is insufficient evidence for a prosecutor to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Your NY marijuana defense lawyer can provide representation at every step until your charges are resolved. Contact Bukh Law Firm PLLC. today to schedule a consultation and learn more.