A state-by-state breakdown of what happens when you get busted with weed
For nearly 30 years, the War on Drugs has been fought with scales. Signed by President Reagan, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 established mandatory minimum sentences of 5 and 10 years in federal prison without parole for first-time drug offenders, the penalty determined by the type of narcotic and the amount in your possession.
The bill, which is infamous for its racial and socioeconomic bias, was intended to target high-level traffickers but the weights for some drugs, such as crack cocaine, which was predominantly used in low-income communities, were so disproportionately low that it ensared small-time dealers and even users.
The good news for weed heads: You had to possess 100 plants or 100 kilos of marijuana—frankly, a lot of bud—to get five years. Of course, carrying lesser amounts could still get you in trouble.
Since President Obama admitted to inhaling repeatedly, Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in November 2012, and Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont may follow suit within the next two years, you might think it’s all good to have some weed on you now.
But laws and possession punishments differ from state to state, so before you go prancing around with your goodies, you’d better know what will get you in trouble where.
You don’t want to take a road trip like Cheech and Chong in Up In Smoke and get caught with a gram more than is legal to hold in that state. To help you avoid that fate, Complex created a comprehensive marijuana map to educate you about the possession penalties.
Depending on how much you’re carrying, serious jail time and a hefty fine may lurk over your head. Prison times range from a couple days to 10 years, with fines of up to $350,000. Categories consist of a gram, an eighth (3.5 g), a quarter (7 g), a half (14 g/0.5 oz), and, for those ambitious marijuana connoisseurs, a pound.
All of the punishments are based on a first-time offense and a maximum possible fine. States are grouped according to jail time and fine severity, giving you the ideal route for a marijuana-friendly road trip. Now get out there and see if the grass is indeed greener on the other side.
Depending on the state, a marijuana charge could cost little, or a lifetime.
I got caught with weed
Despite the growing number of states—and, most recently, Canada—that have legalized the use of marijuana (or “weed”) for medical and/or recreational purposes, possession, use, and sale of marijuana is still illegal in South Carolina, even if you purchased the drug in a state where it is legal. The state takes these laws very seriously. If you are arrested for charges related to possessing, using, buying or selling marijuana, you need to understand the legal implications around what happens when you get arrested for marijuana, which can mean jail time and financial penalties, as well as having a negative effect on your future.
Definition of “Marijuana” and Potential Charges
While understanding the detailed descriptions and implications of the law is often best left to an experienced lawyer, you have a right to read and understand the laws of South Carolina as it relates to marijuana. The law is very detailed and can be difficult to interpret. For example, people know you can be charged for having plants, but also for having seeds, resin, or anything manufactured from any part of the marijuana plant, seeds, or resin. However, under South Carolina law, “marijuana” does not mean the mature stalks from a plant, or oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, so it’s complicated.
What Happens When You Get Arrested for Marijuana?
If you are arrested on charges related to marijuana, you can expect to be charged with one or more of the following:
- Possession of marijuana (1 oz. or more)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia (including things like smoking pipes, water pipes, bongs, roach clips)
- Possession with intent to distribute (sell)
- Drug trafficking.
Each of these is a serious charge that can dramatically and negatively affect your future.
If you are arrested, what you will be charged with depends a lot on the circumstances surrounding the arrest, as well as the amount and type in your possession at the time. Generally speaking, the larger the amount of the drug at the time of your arrest, the greater the potential drug charges and penalties can be. Here’s a general breakdown of the penalties each charge can bring:
- Possession of marijuana:Misdemeanor, which can include up to 30 days in jail and a $100-$200 fine
- Possession of drug paraphernalia:Misdemeanor, which can include up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine
- Possession with intent to distribute:Felony. Fines and jail time depend on number of previous offenses, but can reach 20 years and $20,000.
- Drug trafficking:Felony. Fines and jail time depend on the amount/weight, and number of previous offenses, if any.
Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, these are serious charges; if you are found guilty, it can severely impact your ability to live a normal life, even if you do not serve time in jail. These charges are part of a public and permanent record and can impact your ability to get a job, a loan, to secure housing, purchase a firearm, get an education, and vote.
Defense for Being Arrested with Marijuana
With the information in black and white, it can seem daunting or hopeless to hire an attorney to fight for your interests after an arrest on marijuana charges in South Carolina. The Leventis Law Firm never judges their clients. Instead, we work diligently to find the best possible outcome for each case and every client, bringing decades of experience to bear on similar cases. We examine procedures and how the arrest was made, conduct detailed investigations, and can introduce evidence providing reasonable doubt that can end in your acquittal. If convicted, some charges can be eligible for expungement or removal of the charges after the fact, such as in the case of some simple possession of marijuana charges. Contact us today for a free consultation, learn how we can fight for your rights.
I got caught with weed Despite the growing number of states—and, most recently, Canada—that have legalized the use of marijuana (or “weed”) for medical and/or recreational purposes, possession,