Is Marijuana Possession a Federal Crime?

Marijuana joints on a table.

It’s understandable to feel confused and overwhelmed by the complexity surrounding the legality of marijuana possession in the United States. The combination of the state laws that have seen marijuana legalized across the country with the federal laws that still criminalize possession as harshly as ever has left many citizens understandably confused about the rules. Don’t misunderstand: you can still get into a lot of trouble for possession of marijuana in Texas and across the country. 

So, the pressing question remains: Is marijuana possession a federal crime? While numerous states (not including Texas) have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use, it is crucial to understand that at the federal level, it still remains illegal.

Here’s everything you need to know about the federal laws regarding marijuana possession and how they differ from state laws.

What are the federal laws regarding marijuana?

Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it is considered to have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. As a result, possession of any amount of marijuana is illegal under federal law. This includes possession for personal use and medical use — even in states where it is legal.

What is federal marijuana possession, really? Are we talking about possession of ten pounds going out for distribution or a quarter ounce for a weekend camping trip? According to federal laws on cannabis, possession of marijuana means having control or custody over any amount of the substance, which means that having any amount of marijuana is still technically considered illegal nationwide. This can include carrying it on your person, in your vehicle, or even storing it in your home.

The federal government reserves the right to enforce these laws and prosecute individuals who possess marijuana, regardless of state laws. This has resulted in thousands of arrests and convictions for possession of marijuana at the federal level.

Is medical marijuana federally legal in the United States?

The use of medical marijuana is a controversial topic, especially with regard to marijuana federal laws. While many states have legalized it for medical purposes, the possession and use of medical marijuana at the federal level is still considered illegal.

In fact, even patients who are using medical marijuana legally in their state can still face federal prosecution for possession. In Texas, the only exception is if the individual falls under the Cannabis Compassionate Use Program, which allows for the possession and use of low-THC medical marijuana for patients with the following medical conditions:

  • Epilepsy
  • A seizure disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Spasticity
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Autism
  • Cancer
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • An incurable neurodegenerative disease

How do state laws differ?

In contrast to federal laws, many states have legalized marijuana for medical and/or recreational use. These states have implemented their own set of regulations and guidelines for possession and use, often allowing individuals to possess a certain amount of marijuana for personal use.

For example when looking at weed law by state, in California, adults 21 years or older are allowed to possess up to one ounce (28.5 grams) of marijuana for recreational use. Similarly, medical patients in states like Colorado and Nevada can possess larger amounts of marijuana with a valid medical recommendation. However, in Texas, possession of any amount of marijuana is still considered a criminal offense and is charged as possession of a controlled substance in Texas.

It’s important to note that while state laws may allow for possession, purchasing and selling marijuana is still considered illegal under federal law. This creates a complex legal landscape where individuals may be able to possess marijuana in their state legally but could face federal charges if caught buying or selling it. Contact a Laredo drug possession lawyer if you are facing any type of drug charges in Texas.

So, what happens if you get caught with marijuana at the federal level?

If you are caught with marijuana by federal authorities, you can be charged with a federal crime. This can result in fines, imprisonment, or both. The severity of the consequences will depend on various factors including the amount of marijuana in your possession and whether it is your first offense.

Penalties for federal marijuana possession

Amount possessedOffense numberMaximum fineJail time
Any amountFirst offense$1,000Up to 1 year
Any amountSecond offense$2,50015 days – 2 years
Any amountSubsequent offense$5,00090 days – 3 years

Penalties for marijuana possession in Texas

Amount possessedChargeMaximum fineJail time
< 2 ounces Class B misdemeanor$2,000Up to 180 days
2 – 4 ouncesClass A misdemeanor$4,000Up to 1 year
4 ounces – 5 poundsState jail felony$10,000180 days – 2 years
5 – 50 poundsThird-degree felony$10,0002 – 10 years
50 – 2,000 poundsSecond-degree felony$10,0002 – 20 years
> 2,000 poundsFirst-degree felony$50,0005 years – life in prison

If you are facing federal charges for marijuana possession, it is crucial to seek legal representation from a skilled federal criminal defense lawyer. The consequences of a possession conviction extend beyond jail time and fines and can include a permanent criminal record, difficulty finding employment, and restrictions on your civil rights — even in states where cannabis possession is legal.

Facing federal charges for weed possession? Call Javier Guzman as soon as possible.

Is marijuana possession a federal crime? Yes, and the consequences of being convicted can be severe. If you are facing federal charges for possession of marijuana, it is crucial to seek legal representation from Javier Guzman — founding attorney of Guzman Law Firm and an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer who will fight for your rights and help navigate the complex laws surrounding marijuana possession. 

Whether your drug possession charges are being elevated to drug trafficking and you need a Laredo drug trafficking attorney or you need representation for a possession charge, call Guzman Law Firm at (956) 516-7198 or contact us online to schedule your consultation. 

Don’t let a possession conviction ruin your future — get the legal help you need today.

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