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What Are the Different Types of Marijuana Possession Charges?

Possession of marijuana can result in a prison sentence.
Switzerland has decriminalized possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use.
Marijuana possession charges can be based on the amount confiscated.
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  • Written By: Renee Booker
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 06 April 2014
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Jurisdictions throughout the world vary widely with regard to what type of marijuana possession charges can be filed against a person. Many countries have legalized the medical use of marijuana or have decriminalized possession of small amounts for personal use. Within countries where any possession is still illegal, the severity of the charge, and, therefore, the severity of the possible penalty, generally depends on the amount of marijuana the person has.

In general, most judicial systems throughout the world categorize these charges as either felony or misdemeanor possession, with felonies being the more serious crimes. In many places, having of a small amount of marijuana is charged as a misdemeanor. Larger amounts that may be intended for sale are charged as a felony.

A number of countries have also decriminalized possession of marijuana in small amounts. The effect of decriminalization generally means that marijuana possession charges, in the criminal sense, will not apply to a person found with a small amount intended for personal use. Uruguay, Switzerland, Israel, and Mexico, for example, have decriminalized this type of possession. In many other countries, while technically illegal, recreational use of marijuana is widely accepted and rarely punished. Costa Rica, Cambodia, and Iran are examples of countries where, although illegal, marijuana is sold and smoked openly without significant risk of prosecution.

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Medicinal use of marijuana is also allowed in many countries for people who suffer from a variety of ailments. Within the United States, 15 states allow medicinal use of marijuana as of 2011, and 12 have decriminalized the use of small amounts. If, however, a person is found in possession of larger amounts, or is caught in a state that has not decriminalized possession, then charges may be filed. The distinction between misdemeanor and felony possession will vary by state; however, an amount over 1 ounce (28 grams) is a common standard by which felony charges are measured.

The penalty for being convicted of marijuana possession charges will also vary greatly by jurisdiction. Within the United States, misdemeanor possession generally carries a possible penalty of a year or less in jail, while a felony conviction can lead to a sentence of a year or more in prison. In most countries, the possible penalty for possession of marijuana is less than for possession of other, more serious drugs; however, in some countries, such as Hungary, there is no distinction between possession of marijuana or a more serious controlled substance, such as heroin.

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Discuss this Article

anon935134
Post 7

Many stupid minds treat stoners like criminals and it has to stop. We are, in many, many cases, good people. There are, surely many more bad people drinking soft drinks and robbing, killing and doing evil. Let us live in peace and punish us only when we do something wrong.

julies
Post 6

I have an uncle who has used marijuana for medicinal purposes for many years. He has suffered from cancer and has a lot of pain.

His experience is that none of the other pain killers touch his pain like the marijuana does.

Now he lives in a state where medicinal use of marijuana is legal and he is thankful for this. I really don't know how he got possession of the marijuana before this was legalized in his state.

I don't think worrying about going to prison because of being caught using marijuana would have been worth it, but I know many people have taken that chance.

John57
Post 5

There have been a lot of changes in the marijuana laws in the United States in recent years. I live in a state where marijuana is still considered illegal and has not been decriminalized.

A few years ago a president of a local community college was arrested because they found him growing marijuana in his yard. I don't think he sold this, but grew it for his own use.

If I remember right he was charged with a misdemeanor, but he also was fired from his position as president of the college.

bagley79
Post 4

I knew a guy who spent some time in jail on a marijuana possession charge. This was a felony charge because he was caught with large amounts of marijuana with the intent to deliver.

I know he spent several years in prison, but did not have to serve his entire sentence time.

During the time he delivered marijuana, he was also using it. Since then, he has completely changed his life around. It is hard for him to get a good jobs because of the felony on his record, but he hasn't touched any marijuana since then.

candyquilt
Post 3

@turquoise, @ddljohn-- Yep, what @ddljohn described is basically how the marijuana possession laws are in most states where marijuana is not decriminalized. A couple of other things I want to add though is that the charges also depend on if you have a past criminal record or not. It also depends on where you were and what you were doing at the time.

Let me put it this way, if you have a previous criminal record, are in possession of marijuana in your vehicle and was caught driving in or near a school zone, you're going to be much worse off than someone who doesn't have a criminal record and was caught at home with a small amount for example.

If you're caught in your vehicle, your license will also be taken away (at least 6 months). If you have previous criminal charges or if you are caught again with possession of marijuana in the future, the penalties will double and triple. The same goes if you're caught on or near a school zone or on a university campus.

So there is a lot of different factors that go into it. Some states, and even local courts and different judges can be more lenient or harsh for the same exact situation too.

ddljohn
Post 2

@turquoise-- Possessing or being under the influence of marijuana has the same charge in New Jersey. If it's less than 50 grams (in possession or under the influence), the penalty is either up to 6 months in jail or up to $1,000 fine. The penalty goes up by how much marijuana is under possession. The penalties are also higher if there is cultivation or distribution involved.

I'm not 100% sure about your situation. But I think that if your ex and his friend were caught using marijuana, they would both be charged with possessing and being under the influence of marijuana and it would go into their record as a "disorderly persons offence."

turquoise
Post 1

So I guess the charges for possessing marijuana depends on the state and the amount. Does anyone know about New Jersey marijuana possession laws?

And what if someone is not in possession of it but still uses it illegally. What's the charge for that?

My ex-boyfriend was secretly using marijuana and I broke it off with him when I found out. I don't think that he ever kept any in his home. I certainly didn't find any when I was there. He apparently went to his friend's house who stored it for him and used it there.

If the police had been to that house, would he have been charged with marijuana possession? Or would his friend be charged with it because it was her house and in her possession?

I'm not sure how exactly the law is defined but from what I understand it appears a bit vague about this.

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