To many people, the use and possession of marijuana is thought to be a minor crime – or not even a crime at all. After all, more and more states are passing laws that legalize marijuana in some form, so many believe that it isn’t fair to be punished for something that others in our country are free to do.
The law, unfortunately, is not quite that simple.
There are currently 23 states and the District of Columbia that have some form of legal marijuana use on the books. So far, only four states – Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington – have legalized the recreational use of marijuana.
Many of the other states have passed laws that allow for the legal use of medical marijuana. And then there are states that have decriminalized the possession of marijuana in small amounts, which tends to replace the former penalties with a fine.
Minnesota is not one of these states. In our state, marijuana is still listed as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which makes it illegal. Depending on the crime and the amount of marijuana in question, you could face a misdemeanor or felony. Marijuana misdemeanor and felony offenses are punishable by fines and possible jail time in Minnesota.
Until Minnesota passes its own marijuana reform legislation, if you are caught with the drug, you can still be charged with a drug crime. Let’s look at the laws and penalties associated with the possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana in Minnesota.
Kinds of Marijuana Possession Charges
Misdemeanor. If you possess marijuana for personal use, there are two offenses that carry misdemeanor charges:
- Possession of 42.5 grams or less is punishable by a fine of up to $200. If you are a first time offender, you may be eligible for a conditional discharge. Also, you may have to take a drug education course.
- Possession of more than 1.4 grams inside your car (except your trunk) is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail.
Felony. If you possess marijuana for personal use in an amount over 42.5 grams, you can be charged with a felony:
- Possession of more than 42.5 grams but less than 10 kilograms is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 5 years in jail.
- Possession of more than 10 kilograms but less than 50 kilograms is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in jail.
- Possession of more than 50 kilograms but less than 100 kilograms is punishable by a fine of up to $500,000 and up to 25 years in jail.
- Possession of more than 100 kilograms is punishable by a fine of up to $1,000,000 and up to 30 years in jail.
Kinds of Penalties for Marijuana Sale
Misdemeanor. If you sell or distribute 42.5 grams or less of marijuana without remuneration, you can be charged with a misdemeanor that’s punishable by a fine of up to $200. You may also have to complete a drug education course.
Felony. If you sell more than 42.5 grams of marijuana, sell marijuana to a minor or in certain areas, or import marijuana, you can be charged with a felony. Here are a few of the marijuana felony charges for selling:
- The sale of more than 42.5 grams but less than 5 kilograms is punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to 5 years in jail.
- The sale of more than 5 kilograms but less than 25 kilograms is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 25 years in jail.
- The sale of marijuana to a minor is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in jail.
- The sale of marijuana within a school zone or certain specified areas is punishable by a fine of up to $100,000 and up to 15 years in jail.
- Importing 100 kilograms or using a minor to import marijuana into Minnesota is punishable by a fine of up to $1,250,000 and up to 35 years in jail.
Other Marijuana Charges
Cultivation. If you grow marijuana plants, you will be punished based upon the total weight of the plants, and then charged with the corresponding possession amount.
Hash and concentrates. Hash and concentrates are listed separately in Schedule 1, but they are almost always treated and punished the same way as marijuana.
Concentrates are defined as any mixture, compound, or preparation that contains THC or its resinous extracts. Hash is defined as the resinous form of marijuana.
Paraphernalia. If you possess marijuana paraphernalia, it is a petty misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $300.
Even though other states have started to legalize marijuana, Minnesota isn’t there yet. Marijuana laws in Minnesota are harsh and shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you’ve been charged with a marijuana crime, contact an experienced drug defense attorney who can get you the results you want.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).