Definition of Marijuana Law & Defenses

Locate a Local Criminal Lawyer

Find Lawyers in Other Categories
Most Common Defense and Criminal Law Issues

What Is Marijuana?

Marijuana is derived from the cannabis plant and is typically either smoked or eaten. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug according to the Federal Government. Therefore, any use, possession, or distribution is illegal under federal law. However, an increasing number of states have liberalized their marijuana laws and now permit certain types of marijuana use and distribution.

Federal Marijuana Prosecution

Federal law makes all marijuana use and cultivation illegal. Importantly, federal law preempts state marijuana laws. This means that you can be prosecuted for federal marijuana crimes even if your state legalizes certain types of marijuana possession or distribution.

If you are convicted of federal marijuana crimes, you may face significant jail time and financial penalties. And, federal sentencing guidelines include mandatory minimums for certain marijuana and drug offenses.

State Marijuana Prosecution

State marijuana laws vary dramatically. However, there has been a trend towards decriminalizing and regulating certain types of marijuana use. Currently:

However, even if your marijuana use is legal under state law, you can still face criminal charges. For example, operating a vehicle under the influence of marijuana is illegal—even if you have a medical marijuana license.

And, more significant marijuana misdemeanors and felonies have stricter penalties. If convicted of selling or cultivating large amounts of marijuana, you may face prolonged incarceration and significant fines. If you have questions about your state’s current marijuana laws, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Are There Any Defenses I Could Use If I Am Accused of Possessing or Selling Marijuana?

If you are charged with marijuana crimes, you may have a variety of defenses. In addition to more traditional drug-related defenses, you may be able to offer your medical marijuana license as a defense. However, a medical marijuana license is never a defense under federal law. 

Defenses to Marijuana Possession

Your lawyer may be able to argue:

Every criminal case is different. However, your defense lawyer can tailor his or her arguments to your situation.

Defenses to Marijuana Sales

If you are facing cultivation or distribution charges, your lawyer may be able to argue: 

Make sure you give your criminal defense lawyer accurate and detailed information about your arrest and activities. This will help the lawyer build the strongest possible defenses in your case.

Should I Hire an Attorney for Marijuana Issues?

If you have been accused of or arrested for possessing or selling marijuana, you should seriously consider hiring of a criminal defense attorney. Marijuana charges can carry serious penalties. The advice of a defense attorney may help you understand your rights and navigate the criminal justice system.

Consult a Lawyer - Present Your Case Now!
Last Modified: 06-13-2017 09:31 AM PDT

Find the Right Lawyer Now

Link to this page

Law Library Disclaimer

LegalMatch Service Mark