Marijuana charges as considered criminal offenses, and it’s best to have an experienced Pittsburgh marijuana defense attorney on your side to help you navigate the complexity of the legal process around these cases. Your attorney can help evaluate the evidence being brought against you by the Commonwealth and assess what can and cannot be used to prosecute you. It’s also important to have an attorney who understands how to fight these types of cases and work toward maintaining your rights by drawing on prior experience and an in-depth understanding of the Pittsburgh criminal system.
If you have previously been convicted of any other drug, controlled substance, or marijuana cultivation offense in the past, the minimum mandatory penalties increase upon sentencing. A second offense is punishable by a $30,000 fine and a minimum prison sentence of four years. You could face even greater fines depending on how much money you made from the illegal marijuana cultivation.
If you grow marijuana in your basement or garden, and the police charge you with the cultivation of marijuana, you will need to retain a defense attorney who is knowledgeable in the current marijuana laws.
If you cultivated 10 to 50 pounds, or 21 to 51 plants, you can draw three years in prison and $15,000 in fines for a first offense.
Steps to Take if You Have Been Charged
In Allegheny County and throughout western Pennsylvania, people frequently cultivate marijuana plants and with the recent signing of the Pennsylvania medical marijuana bill, this may seem like a relief to marijuana growers. But it is important to remember that while the new medical marijuana law allows patients with one of 17 qualifying conditions to access the drug, the medical marijuana must be purchased from an authorized dispensary. Therefore, if you are found with marijuana plants even if the crop is just for your own use, it can still cause serious legal problems.
Your marijuana lawyer will go over what happened both before and after your arrest. Importantly, he or she will assess whether there was probable cause to charge you with a crime. This includes determining if the marijuana plantings really belonged to you.
If you are caught growing two to 10 pounds of marijuana, or 10 to 21 plants, you risk one year in prison and $5,000 in fines for a first offense. For a second offense, you can face two years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
How a Marijuana Charge Can Harm You
Other possible consequences of a marijuana cultivation conviction:
You can be arrested for growing even one marijuana plant. The severity of the penalties you face will vary depending on the quantity of your plantings.
PA lawmakers approved the program in 2016, but did not allow patients to grow the plant at home.
New PA bill could let residents grow their own.
To be eligible for a medical marijuana card, patients must have a qualifying medical condition and be prescribed a license through a program-certified physician.
The home-grown provision also states that growing can only occur on residential property legally opened by the patient or with the permission of the property owner. Landlords could prohibit their tenants from growing cannabis.
In a news release, Laughlin and Street said that letting patients grow their own plants would help ease the cost and accessibility burdens.
State Sens. Dan Laughlin and Sharif Street want to amend Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to permit patients to grow the herb in their own homes.
Earlier this year, Laughlin and Street proposed legislation to legalize adult-use of cannabis for recreational purposes. They have joined forces again to propose what will be known as the Medical Marijuana Home Cultivation Bill.
Laughlin’s and Street’s proposed amendment, once introduced, will replicate the home-grow provision for medical marijuana patients that they included in their more comprehensive adult-use marijuana legalization bill earlier this year. Laughlin in February became the first Republican in the General Assembly to support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
A bipartisan duo of state senators wants to amend Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program to allow patients to grow the plant in their own homes.
Cultivation, the legislation states, must occur in an “enclosed, locked space” out of public view, that’s not accessible to an unauthorized person, including people under the age of 21. Medical marijuana dispensaries would sell seeds to patients for home cultivation. Neither the seeds, the plants nor the cultivated cannabis they produce could be sold or given to another person.
Laughlin and Street in a news release noted that the current law has many “inefficiencies” that are reflected in “mounting data” from the Medical Marijuana Advisory Board and the Pennsylvania Health Department.
They also cite information from the Marijuana Policy Project: 15 of the 19 states that have legalized recreational marijuana and nearly half of the states with medical marijuana programs have home-grow provisions. No state with such a provision has attempted to repeal it.
Laughlin and Street put out a co-sponsorship memorandum Wednesday seeking support for their bill. State lawmakers defeated a similar proposal in June.
“It’s obviously already been proven both in the United States and abroad that there are genuine medical conditions that can be effectively treated with this,” Laughlin told the Erie Times-News Friday. “There’s no disputing that anymore. For it not to be covered under anybody’s insurance, I think this is a reasonable step to try and help cover the cost of their medicine.”