Pittsburgh may vote to decriminalize marijuana
Even though marijuana is still illegal under federal law and illegal under most state laws, an astonishing majority of Americans now believe it is inevitable that marijuana use will eventually be decriminalized in every state by 2020. Until pro-legalization people get their wish, drug charges stemming from marijuana-related arrests can be very serious. In fact, a recent telephone survey conducted by the Pew Research Center found that 75% of those interviewed believe it is just a matter of time before marijuana will be legal throughout the country. This recent poll is just the latest example of the public’s changing attitude towards marijuana use. Indeed, several lawmakers in Pennsylvania have even introduced a bill that will, if passed, allow voters to voice their opinions regarding marijuana use through a nonbinding statewide referendum. This proposed referendum would consist of only one question: Should PA legalize marijuana? Interestingly, another recent poll, which was performed by Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, discovered that 85% of Pennsylvania voters feel that adults should at least be able to use marijuana for medical treatment. Coincidentally, Pennsylvania lawmakers are currently considering another piece of legislation that would decriminalize the use and possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania for medical purposes. The bill, S.B. 1182, would protect an individual from arrest for marijuana possession as long as he or she has a valid medical marijuana identification card. It should be noted, however, that under the language of the bill, this protection would likely not apply if the individual was in possession of more than one ounce of “cannabis flower,” or three ounces of “cannabis concentrate.” Drug charges for marijuana possession While it remains to be seen whether either of these Pennsylvania bills will pass, the simple fact that they have been introduced reflect the shifting in public opinion. However, until new laws are actually created in Pennsylvania, the use and possession of marijuana will continue to be illegal, even when used for medical purposes. For instance, the possession of up to 30 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor under Pennsylvania law, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. But, if the individual happens to be in possession of more than 30 grams, he or she may face a term of imprisonment of up to one year and a $5,000 fine for his or her first offense. Ultimately, drug charges can carry significant criminal penalties, as well as potential lifelong consequences. Accordingly, if you are currently facing marijuana possession charges, it is often best to seek the counsel of an experienced drug crimes defense attorney. A skilled attorney can help investigate the circumstances of your arrest and assist in developing the best defense possible. If you have questions about drug charges stemming from a marijuana arrest, call Pittsburgh drug charges attorney Gary Gerson today for a free consultation at 412-219-6875.