"Not so fast, my friend."
These words will certainly be spoken today by Lee Corso of ESPN's College Gameday when the weekly football picks are made on this first Saturday of the college football season. However, I am similarly certain that Governor Tom Corbett would quickly borrow this phrase if asked whether marijuana legalization is on his agenda for the legislature.
Possession and Delivery or Distribution of Marijuana is currently illegal in Pennsylvania and there are no immediate signs that this status is likely to change.
An Altered State
The limited and controlled use of marijuana is currently legal in 20 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
Until recently, the people who lawfully dispense and possess marijuana under their respective state laws have had to constantly look over their shoulder wondering if the federal government or its prosecutors would step in and prosecute them under Federal Law. Because marijuana possession has not been legalized in any capacity under federal law, persons lawfully possessing marijuana under the laws of their home state have been subject to possible federal prosecution.
The Feds Speak
Following the recent announcement of a policy shift in the application of mandatory minimum sentences for federal drug prosecutions, this week the Department of Justice (DOJ) released a memorandum formally outlining its policy for Marijuana Enforcement in states where some form of marijuana legalization exist.
The DOJ has made known its expectation "that state and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct [must] implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems." These systems must be effective both on paper and in practice.
Moreover, the DOJ has outlined 8 criteria that the respective state systems must meet:
- Prevent distribution to minors;
- Prevent the transfer of financial gains to organized crime;
- Prevent the diversion of marijuana to other states;
- Prevent the use of state-authorized distribution of marijuana as a cover for illegal drug trafficking;
- Prevent the use of violence and firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana;
- Prevent drugged driving;
- Prevent marijuana cultivation on public lands; and,
- Prevent marijuana possession and use on federal lands.
If these requirements are not met by states with laws permitting the limited use and controlled distribution of marijuana, the DOJ has reserved the right to intervene with a legal challenge to state marijuana laws or federally prosecute individuals, criminal organizations, or dispensaries in those states.
The State of Marijuana in Pennsylvania
Under the Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act, it is illegal to Possess and Use, Possess With the Intent to Deliver, and Deliver Marijuana in PA.
A person charged and convicted of Marijuana Possession could face a permanent criminal record for a drug conviction and a license suspension.
Meanwhile, a person charged and found guilty of Felony Drug Delivery or Possession With Intent to Deliver could face these same consequences under the enhanced grading, as well as possible state mandatory minimum prison sentences based upon weight, location of the sale/possession, or "possession" of gun at the time of the delivery.
Marijuana Drug Defense in PA
When you have been accused of a marijuana drug crime under PA law, your rights, your freedom, and your life are at stake. You need help. You need a Marijuana Possession Defense Lawyer to defend your rights and protect you against the potential life-altering consequences you face.
An experienced Harrisburg Drug Crimes Defense Attorney understands how to provide an individualized focus and personalized strategy to the defense of your case. A knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense lawyer will be able to identify potential search and seizure issues to determine if your constitutional rights have been violated while also injecting a common sense approach into the equation.
If you have been charged with or you are under investigation for a crime involving marijuana possession or delivery, contact us for a free phone consultation immediately.