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Marijuana, marihuana or cannabis, is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance in Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act in section four (35 P.S. § 780-104(1)(iv)). Even though others states have recently enacted laws decriminalizing marijuana use, under Pennsylvania and federal law it is still illegal. Possession of even a small amount of marijuana is punishable as a misdemeanor in Pennsylvania. Punishments and penalties for marijuana-related offenses typically depend on the quantity of marijuana involved, whether the marijuana was merely possessed, or whether it was cultivated, sold or distributed.
If you have been charged with marijuana possession in Chester County or Delaware County, contact us today at the Skinner Law Firm. We will listen to the facts of your particular situation and make every effort to fight the allegations against you. Michael J. Skinner is a former prosecutor who will use his knowledge of the criminal justice system to fight for a favorable outcome in your case. Call (610) 436-1410 for a consultation about your alleged marijuana crime today.
Marijuana is defined in Pennsylvania under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P.S. § 780-102) in section Two. Marijuana, also known as marihuana, pot, weed, ganja, bud or chronic consists of all forms, species and varieties of cannabis, including growing plants, plants not growing, seeds, resin, and any compound, derivative, preparation or mixture from marijuana, the plant’s resin or seeds.
Marijuana does not include tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the mature stalks of a marijuana plant, the fiber from the stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant, or any other mixture, compound, derivative or preparation from the mature stalks or sterilized seed that is incapable of germination.
In Pennsylvania, marijuana possession crimes typically involve actual or constructive possession of the marijuana. Constructive possession relates to the ability to control possession. Thus, a person can be charged with a crime of possession of marijuana if they have conscious dominion and control of the marijuana.
When an individual is charged with the crime of illegal possession of marijuana, the evidence presented at trial must establish that the person charged had a "conscious dominion over the contraband." Commonwealth v. Davis, 444 Pa. 11 (1971). The illegal possession of any drug, including marijuana is a crime, which ‘by its very nature is unique to the individual. By definition, the possessor is the only person who could commit this crime. Guilt by association . . . is unacceptable.’ Commonwealth v. Reece, 437 Pa. 422, 427 (1970).
The presence of one person in a group of people at the scene ‘is not of critical import in drug possession cases.’ Commonwealth v. Reece, 437 Pa. 422 at 427. ‘(T)he fact of possession loses all persuasiveness if persons other than the accused had equal access . . . to the place in which the property was discovered. . . .’ Commonwealth v. Davis, 444 Pa. 11 at 16, Quoting 9 Wigmore on Evidence (3rd ed.) § 2513.
Therefore, when an individual is charged with illegal possession of marijuana or drugs, the presence of a person at the scene, by itself without considering the entire circumstances surrounding the situation, is not sufficient evidence to prove the crime.
As noted above, there are many ways to fight whether a person actually possessed and thus controlled marijuana. Having an attorney competent in the laws of marijuana possession is vital to a vigorous defense.
Possessing a small amount of marijuana is prohibited in Pennsylvania under section 13 of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(31)). A small amount of marijuana is defined as 30 grams or less or eight grams or less of hashish (hash). Possession of a small amount of marijuana is punishable as a misdemeanor, which can result in imprisonment, not more than 30 days and/or a fine up to $500.
Possession of a large amount of marijuana is also prohibited in Pennsylvania under section 13 of the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act (35 P.S. § 780-113(a)(16). A large amount of marijuana is generally anything over 30 grams. Possession of a large marijuana is punishable as a misdemeanor, which can result in imprisonment up to one year and/or a fine not exceeding $5,000. A person possessing a large amount of marijuana could also be charged with felony trafficking.
Contact the Skinner Law Firm today for a consultation about your alleged marijuana offense in Chester County or Delaware County. Michael J. Skinner is an experienced marijuana defense lawyer in West Chester who will make every effort to help you find applicable defenses or mitigating factors to your particular situation.