The laws related to marijuana in Philadelphia and the cannabis industry can be confusing and are constantly evolving. This makes up-to-date legal guidance essential if you are to remain compliant and avoid unnecessary criminal exposure. As an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer and member of the Medical Marijuana Committee of the Philadelphia Bar Association, Michael Fienman is at the forefront of cannabis law in Philadelphia and across Pennsylvania. If you have questions about medical marijuana, have been charged with a marijuana-related crime, or are interested in entering the marijuana industry, contact attorney Fienman at (215) 839-9529 or complete our online form.

Where Do Most Marijuana Busts Happen In Pennsylvania?

Only ten out of the 67 counties in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania accounted for 60% of marijuana possession arrests in 2015. Four of these counties are in the metropolitan area of Philadelphia:

  • Montgomery County had 1,550 arrests
  • Bucks County reported 1,010 arrests
  • Delaware County had 976 arrests
  • Philadelphia County recorded 858 marijuana arrests

The Legal Status of Marijuana in Philadelphia

Although the possession of small quantities of pot is not a criminal offense in the City of Philadelphia, the police may still make an arrest if you:

  • Fail to show an ID when caught
  • Get caught in the act of buying or selling
  • Use it next to a school
  • Possess more than 30 grams
  • Get caught driving under the influence of marijuana
  • Possess other illegal drugs in addition to marijuana

Otherwise, if you get caught with 30 grams or less, the police will consider it a civil infraction—like a parking ticket. You will have to pay a $25 dollar fine, or $100 if you were caught smoking in public. It’s possible to substitute community service hours for the fine.

The Penalties for Marijuana in the Rest of Pennsylvania

The movement for the legalization of marijuana is gaining momentum in Pennsylvania, as in most parts of the country. But until a state medical or recreational marijuana law goes into effect, you may face serious criminal penalties for offenses ranging from having a few joints in your pocket to growing a field of plants. At Fienman Defense, we can defend against the following marijuana charges:

  • Possession of marijuana — Possession of less than 30 grams is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.
  • Felony possession of marijuana — If you get busted with more than 30 grams, you may face felony charges involving up to a year imprisonment and possible fines reaching $1,000.
  • Possessing personal use marijuana — You may face either misdemeanor or felony charges for possessing marijuana for your own consumption.
  • Cultivation of marijuana — This is a felony that can cost you years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
  • Distribution of marijuana — Distributing less than 30 grams is a misdemeanor offense, but if you get busted moving more weight that that, you will face felony charges and the possibility of years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
  • Marijuana trafficking — A prosecutor will charge you with this serious may have to spend years in jail and pay tens of thousands of dollars in fines.
  • Use or possession of drug paraphernalia — If you get caught with an object related to the use, trafficking, or cultivation of cannabis, you could receive up to a one-year jail sentence and thousands of dollars in fines.

How Fienman Defense Can Help

If you are facing marijuana-related charges, or you suspect that you are being investigated for marijuana cultivation or trafficking, it’s essential that you retain the services of a competent and reliable Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer as soon as you can. He or she may be able to defend your case with the following strategies:

  • Suppressing the prosecution’s evidence — If the police gather evidence in violation of your constitutional rights, that evidence can’t be used against you in your trial. If your case involves a warrantless search of your home or an illegal traffic stop, it may be possible to have your charges dismissed.
  • Making a proof of reasonable doubt — The prosecutor must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly possessed marijuana, and in some cases that you had the intent to distribute. If your lawyer can show that the available evidence does not support every element of the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, you may avoid a guilty verdict.
  • Arranging a plea agreement — When all the evidence points to your guilt and a victory at trial is unlikely, your lawyer can use his or her negotiating skills to make a deal with the prosecutor. By saving the Commonwealth the expense of putting you on trial, you may receive a conviction for a less serious offense.
  • Advocating for a lenient sentence or probation — If a jury finds you guilty, your lawyer can use his or her advocacy skills to convince the judge that you should receive a lesser sentence.