Anyone who follows the news can recognize that marijuana laws have relaxed over the last several years. While some states have legalized recreational use of marijuana, in New York, such use remains illegal. In fact, although marijuana-based offenses may be considered relatively minor when compared to other drug crimes, those who are convicted of these offenses can still face some harsh penalties.
The penalties, of course, vary depending on the exact crime that occurs. For example, simple possession of 25 grams or less of marijuana can leave an individual facing little more than a violation that carries a fine. With this offense, there is not threat of being sent to jail. However, those who possess between two and eight ounces of marijuana can be sent to jail for up to a year. They can also be fined up to $1,000.
The higher the amount of marijuana possessed, the more strict the penalties. Possession of anywhere between one and 10 pounds, for example, can leave an individual facing up to seven years in prison. This prison sentence is mandatory when an individual commits a similar subsequent offense. Those who possess more than 10 pounds of marijuana can be sent to prison for 15 years. So, even though marijuana is often thought of as a lesser drug, and federal, state, and local governments seem to be easing their rules with regard to its possession, the truth remains that marijuana possession can be a serious crime.
Therefore, those who are accused of drug possession need to make sure that they are doing everything they can to protect themselves. This may mean obtaining the assistance of a criminal defense attorney who knows how to challenge the validity of the prosecution's evidence and make compelling legal arguments in support of dismissed charges or an acquittal. To learn more about how to approach these types of criminal charges, accused individuals should consider reaching out to an experienced law firm.