From nostalgic memories of the 1960s and its glorification in movies to the near legalization in California, it is sometimes forgotten that the federal government is actively working to stop the distribution of marijuana in this country.
In 2008 and 2009 the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) seized the most marijuana, by weight, since the mid-1980s. According to the DEA, it seized 660,969.2 kg of marijuana in 2008 and 666,120 kg in 2009, these numbers are a drastic increase from the amount of marijuana seized in 2007 (356,472 kg).
With this seemingly increased enforcement by state and federal authorities, it is important to remember the penalties that one could face if arrested for trafficking marijuana.
Federal Penalties for Trafficking Marijuana
The United States government doesn't take the trafficking of marijuana lightly - even the penalties for first time offenses are harsh. Federal marijuana trafficking penalties for a first offense include:
- Up to 49 plants or less than 50 kg mixture - up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 for an individual or up to $1 million if more than one individual involved
- 50 to 99 plans or 50 kg to 99 kg mixture - up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million for an individual or up to $5 million if more than one individual involved
- 100 to 999 plants or 100 kg to 999 kg mixture - 5 to 40 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2 million for an individual or up to $5 million if more than one individual involved
- 1,000 or more plants or 1,000 kg or more mixture - between 10 years and life in prison and/or a fine of up to $4 million for an individual or up to $10 million if more than one individual involved
Penalties for a second offense increase substantially.
The penalties, even for a miniscule amount of marijuana, are incredibly harsh. It is of the utmost importance to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested or if you suspect that the authorities may be investigating you for marijuana trafficking charges.