Public attitudes toward the use of marijuana have shifted considerably over the past 20 years. Colorado and California legalized the recreational use of marijuana years ago, and now, most states have legalized the use of cannabis products to a certain extent. These changes likely reflect increasingly permissive public attitudes about the drug. According to the Pew Research Center, in 1969, just 12 percent of people thought that marijuana should be legal, compared with 52 percent in 2014.

While more people are accepting the use of recreational marijuana, the possession of marijuana is still a crime in Pennsylvania. If you are caught with any amount of marijuana and are not participating in Pennsylvania’s newly created medical marijuana program, you can be subject to serious criminal penalties. These include the following:

  • Probation
  • Drug testing
  • Fines
  • Jail time

In addition, drug-related convictions have the potential to wreak havoc on a person’s life. More and more employers are making a criminal background check a standard part of the hiring process, and hiring managers may be hesitant to hire an applicant with a history of drug use. Similarly, landlords routinely ask applicants whether they have been convicted of a crime, and even a marijuana possession conviction could prevent you from renting the apartment you want. Furthermore, certain drug-related convictions can exclude you from participating in the federal student loan program, potentially making it difficult or even impossible for you to earn a degree.

Are There Defenses Available to Marijuana Crimes?

Fortunately, for people charged with a marijuana offense, certain legal defenses—if available—make it possible to obtain a dismissal of your case. Often, drug cases occur after the police search a person, her her home, or her vehicle and find illegal drugs.  If you can prove that the police violated your rights during the search, it may be possible to suppress any evidence, including the marijuana, they seized. This means that the prosecution would not be able to use such evidence against you in court. Without the marijuana as evidence, the prosecutor would be forced to dismiss the case.

Even with no available defenses, you may be able to gain entry into the Accelerated Rehabilitation Diversion Program or Pennsylvania Drug Court. Successful completion of either of these programs can result in the dismissal of your case and avoidance of a conviction on your record.

Call the Skinner Law Firm Today to Discuss Your Case with a West Chester Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been accused of a crime related to the possession, cultivation, or sale of marijuana, do not make the mistake of thinking that more permissive public attitudes will save you from legal trouble. A marijuana conviction can still result in significant fines, a criminal record, and even jail time. As a former prosecutor, West Chester criminal defense lawyer Michael Skinner understands how to defend against allegations of drug offenses and is committed to obtaining the best possible outcome in each case he handles. To schedule a free consultation with Mr. Skinner, call us today at 610-436-1410 or contact us online.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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