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What does 'Possession of a Small Amount' of Marijuana Mean?

Possession of small amount of marijuana is defined by the Drug Act as an amount less than 30 grams.

By Attorney Elisabeth K.H. Pasqualini, Drug Defense Attorney, Harrisburg, PA

As the Summer rolls into full swing, so do outdoor parties, concerts, park events, parades, shore trips, camping trips, and the occassional get together.  Police may be alerted to your location by the odiferous emanations of marijuana, weed, dope, reefer or "Mary Jane."  It's called the "plain smell doctrine."  If the illegal nature of the substance is immediately apparent to a trained police officer, they may then have reasonable suspicion to conduct a pat down/frisk or even have probable cause to arrest you. 

You may be arrested simply for being in the close proximity to a person that was in immediate possession of the substance.  It's called actual possession versus constructive possession.  (See my article link to this topic).  However, if charged or arrested for possession of a small amount of marijuana, know that you could face up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine.  It's an ungraded misdemeanor in Pennsylvania.  That may seem quite petty when considering that a traffic offense carries up to 90 days in jail and a $300 fine.  Or, that possession of drug paraphernalia (the baggie the dope is in) carries one (1) year and a $2500 fine.  However, pursuant to the Motor Vehicle Code in PA and in many other states (See my link to reciprocity or compact states), you will lose your driver's license for 6 months, in PA or in your home state.

A small amount is any amount of 30 grams or less.  For comparison, your usual packet of non-nutritive sweetner contains one (1) gram.  One gram is roughly .035 ounces.  It would take about 28 grams to equal one ounce.  It doesn't matter if it's a stem, a seed, a 'roach', some residue in a bowl, or even the 'shake' left over in a baggie.  You don't have to be smoking it for it to be possession either.  As long as you have it on your possession or are in a position gain immediate access or control over the substance, you are in possession.

If you've been charged with possession of a small marijuana or any other controlled substance, do not simply plead guilty and hope for the best.  There are always other options that may involve not losing your license and your career or livelihood.  You may contact the experienced drug lawyers at Shaffer & Engle Law Offices, LLC toll free or email us today.

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