DC Criminal Defense Lawyer

Drug Possession – Marijuana


Marijuana possession in small amounts was fully legalized by ballot initiative in November 2014.

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Although attitudes about recreational use of marijuana vary widely—it is still a controlled substance under federal law. Being charged with possession of pot, especially after it’s been legalized might not initially seem like a big deal. But anytime you have to go before a judge and answer to criminal charges, it is a big deal. And Washington DC courts will still aggressively prosecute some marijuana possession offenses.

In other words: you can still go to jail for possessing (more than two ounces) of weed.

While your chances of getting off without a jail sentence are pretty good for your first offense, the penalties you face depend on a number of things.

DC Marijuana Laws – What’s Legal?

  • Possession of 2 ounces or less.
  • Having 6 plants or fewer.
  • You can give away up to an ounce to someone who is at least 21 years old.

If you have under 2 ounces of marijuana, there is no crime or civil offense. Before it was fully legalized, it was decriminalized in April 2014, down to a fine of $25, like a parking ticket. But even that does not apply any longer.

And they cannot search you even if they smell pot without a warrant or other probable cause.

What’s not legal?

  • You can’t have more than two ounces or 6 plants
  • You cannot sell sell marijuana in any amount.
  • You can’t smoke weed in public.

If you do any of these things, criminal penalties still apply.

It’s also important to understand the difference between district police and federal police

DC Metro District vs DC Federal

You can still be charged with a crime on Federal property that is patrolled by Capitol Police. Because they can charge you under Federal law, not district law, and they can arrest you.

Marijuana Possession Defenses – Deferred Prosecution

Deferred prosecution is a privilege for first time offenders. Think of it as your “get out of jail free” card. But, although deferred prosecution could save you from serving any jail time, it isn’t a free ride.

In cases of deferred prosecution, you don’t have to enter a plea and you don’t have to go to trial. You do, however, have to successfully serve a period of probation. Once this probation has been successfully fulfilled, the initial charges against you can be dropped.

Distribution of Marijuana in DC – Laws and Penalties

LEGAL Marijuana GrowIf you are accused of selling, growing, or delivering marijuana, you could be facing serious felony charges. Whether you had one plant in your windowsill or 10 in your basement, you are looking at a serious criminal charge.

Regardless of the amount in question, if you are charged with distribution, production, or sale of marijuana, you are facing felony charges with 5 years in prison and up to $50,000 in fines.

Furthermore, if the offense occurred within 1,000 feet of a school or the receiver of the marijuana was a minor, that potential sentence could be doubled to 10 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.

Ref: DC Code §48-904.01

When you’re facing criminal charges related to marijuana, you need the assistance of a defense attorney. Marijuana charges, especially after legalization may not seem serious when compared with cocaine charges, but the bottom-line is all criminal charges are serious criminal charges.

Contact my offices today to discuss the case against you. I can give you a free consultation and we can talk about what sort of options you have.

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