Different state drug laws provide for different criminal penalties and sanctions when it comes to the possession and sale of marijuana. While many states differ with respect to the details of state punishment, most states agree on the legal significance of the proverbial “one-ounce of marijuana” or depending upon your scale of measurement, roughly 28.5 grams.
What is the special significance of possession of one ounce verses some other weight measurement of marijuana? Personal use and consumption of marijuana varies and can differ dramatically between users. State paraphernalia laws also differ by state. For many, use and degree of marijuana is a matter of personal preference. Some users consume marijuana through ingesting liquid, foods, and sublingual strips; others smoke small quantities and favor more potent strains of marijuana.
Most criminal defense marijuana lawyers agree that exceeding the one-ounce threshold can often pose significant legal consequences depending on your states marijuana and paraphernalia laws. For example, if one is stopped by law enforcement and a small amount of marijuana is discovered, say about 10 grams under one ounce, unless more marijuana is subsequently found, one is likely to face a few hundred dollar fine, attend a drug class, participate in community service and agree to unsupervised probation. But now lets consider what happens when the weight in question is a few grams over one the ounce limit.
The scenario can change quite quickly. That’s because for the first time, the issue of sale and distribution of marijuana becomes an issue and law enforcement is inclined to treat such an investigation much more seriously. Police start looking for evidence of sale, often its paraphernalia such as marijuana scales, plastic-baggies, other times the police are looking for evidence of large amounts of cash, and buy-owe list that could eventually help prove a marijuana felony drug sale case. Law enforcement is looking to make its case for a serious felony, possession of an ounce or more with the intent to distribute can, depending on your states marijuana and paraphernalia laws, result in substantial jail time and fines.
Many states sit on the edge of changing their marijuana and paraphernalia laws. States like Connecticut have taken major legislative efforts to decriminalize marijuana. Led by senate Majority Leader Martin Loon, Connecticut has just introduced a bill that would decriminalize marijuana for possession under one ounce; making the offence in essence, equivalent to an ordinary traffic infraction punishable by a small fine. If the bill passes, Connecticut would join the ranks of some thirteen other legal states (AK, CA, CO, HI, ME, MI, MT, NV, NM, OR, RI, VT, and WA) that have already substantially decriminalized marijuana in favor of medicinal use. Further, it is estimated that the legalization would save Connecticut over $30 million a year in law enforcement costs – to say nothing of the states revenue benefits should Connecticut be successful in taxing the sale of medicinal marijuana. California, for example, has just introduced such a sales tax proposal in its state assembly and the governor, a republican, has stated openly he would consider signing it into law if passed by the state legislature.
It is important to keep in mind that the medicinal use of marijuana under California’s Compassionate Use Act (H.S. Code Section 11362.5) does not limit the possession of marijuana to just one ounce. California for example, permits a patient to possess up to eight ounces of marijuana for personal use as a matter of California law. Physicians in California are also legally permitted to recommend more then eight ounces if the physician reasonably determines it would be in the best medical interests of the patient.
Whether it’s one ounce of marijuana or eight ounces of marijuana, the “once ounce” threshold is quickly becoming less relevant to the lawful use of marijuana debate but still poses serious consequences to those who possess and use marijuana without a physicians medicinal recommendation for such use.
For more information on marijuana laws visit GotTrouble.com