Marijuana Possession

Possession of large quantities of marijuana is a crime in Boston. All transactions related to marijuana (possession, possession with intent to distribute, manufacture or cultivation, and trafficking) remain illegal under federal law. Marijuana is a Class D substance in Massachusetts and therefore, the penalties are not as harsh as they are for Class A substances like heroin. There are certain factual scenarios, however, in which marijuana possession can be punished quite harshly in Boston. An experienced Boston criminal defense attorney can help you fight the charges or potentially obtain a favorable deal for a drug possession charge.

Penalties for Possession

Penalties for marijuana possession depend partly on the amount possessed. If you possess one ounce or less, you may be fined only $100 and have to forfeit the marijuana to the state. Even for a first offense of more than 1 ounce, a judge is likely to allow you to complete probation rather than jail time or payment of fines.

However, if you possess more than an ounce on a repeat offense, you may be charged with misdemeanor possession and punished with a $500 fine, up to 6 months in jail or both. The more marijuana you possess, the higher the penalties you face. In addition, it is illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana and if you’re caught high and carrying more than 1 ounce of marijuana in the car, you may not only face possession charges, but also OUI charges. While there is a legal limit for the amount of alcohol in a person’s blood, any amount of marijuana found in a driver’s blood or urine will establish that he or she drove under the influence in Massachusetts.

Last November, Massachusetts voters approved a ballot question that allows patients with specific medical conditions to obtain and use medical marijuana, but the Massachusetts Department of Public Health is still considering how to develop and implement regulations for the safe use of medical marijuana.

Possession of Large Quantities of Marijuana

While there is no pre-determined amount of marijuana that changes a “possession” charge to the more serious “possession with intent to distribute” charge, possession of more than 50 pounds of marijuana can be punished harshly with 1-15 years of imprisonment and up to $10,000 in fines. This offense is a felony and carries at least 1 year as a mandatory minimum sentence (a sentence over which the judge does not have discretion once the jury enters a verdict).

How do prosecutors know you intended to distribute the marijuana? In Massachusetts, prosecutors may infer your intent to distribute from the physical evidence they seize along with the drugs. For example, if you had Ziploc bags on the table or a small scale, those items may be considered evidence of intent to distribute.

Effect of a Marijuana Conviction

A marijuana conviction can seem minor in the scope of criminal law as a whole. However, a conviction has the potential to affect sentencing of any future offenses committed by the same person. Different judges may respond differently to a person brought into court on a marijuana possession charge. Therefore, it is important to consult an experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer who can help you fight the charges or obtain the best possible resolution in the long-term. Contact us at (617) 263-6800 or via our online form.

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