Legal Updates

Philly Criminal Lawyer on Marijuana Decriminalization

The People want Marijuana legalized.  According to a Franklin & Marshall survey, 56 percent of respondents want to legalize the drug.  Astonishingly, 75 percent of independent voters are in favor of legalization.  65 percent of Democrats favor legalization, with 44 percent of Republicans supporting it.  According to FM the sample error is +/- 4.9 percentage points.

Possession of Marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania with exceptions.  The use, sale, and possession of all forms of cannabis in the United States is illegal under federal law with the exception of FDA-approved research programs.  Since possession remains illegal, law enforcement can use the smell or odor of marijuana to justify an intrusive search of a vehicle or defendant’s personal belongings.

The Country is moving towards decriminalization.  Eight states and the District of Columbia have eliminated penalties for personal use and possession of small amounts of pot, while 19 states have decriminalized the drug by reducing punishments.

Pennsylvania has moved with the country towards decriminalizing.  In April 2016, the Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted the Medical Marijuana Act .  The Act provides access for patients suffering from certain serious medical conditions. The individuals must have a physician’s certification and the medical marijuana would be distributed in pill, oil, liquid or other similar forms. Medical dispensaries have been approved to grow and process Marijuana.

Philadelphia has also taken steps to decriminalize marijuana possession.  While possession without a medical exception is crime, the penalty is generally a fine and community service.  In 2010, the city of Philadelphia created the Small Amount of Marijuana (“SAM”) program.  Under the programs defendants records are cleared after paying a small fine and attending a class.

More recently, city council passed a local ordinance that calls for the defendant to pay a $25 fine for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana and a $100 fine if the defendant was caught by police smoking marijuana in public. The ordinance does not apply to the sale of marijuana or to possession of more than 30 grams. However, this recent ordinance has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of criminal marijuana prosecutions in Philadelphia.

If you have been charged with Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana or related charges, contact the Law Office of Mark D. Copoulos.  Our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys can assist you in preparing a defense.  You may be able to litigate a motion to suppress, or utilize other constitutional safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.  To schedule a free consultation call 267.535.9776.