State Marijuana Laws

Don’t let the spellings fool you – it’s all the same plant.

Marijuana is on the road to decriminalization across the country, but it still causes legal problems for people in New York State. In New York, even a small amount can still result in serious penalties – especially when there is a sale involved.

Jeannie Michalski has represented clients on marijuana cases large and small. Very often these cases begin with a traffic stop. In simple possession cases, it is very common for police to either see or smell marijuana through a car window after stopping a car at a roadblock or after a traffic stop. (In marijuana sale cases, the traffic stop usually happens on a pretense, since they have been watching you for a period of weeks.) If the police have a warrant, your car gets searched; if they don’t have a warrant, they claim that they can smell marijuana and then search your car. In a shocking number of cases, people will actually give police permission to search for marijuana… even when they know there are drugs in their car!

You have a right under the United States Constitution and under the New York Constitution to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Protect that right. Never consent to a search of your person or your property. Voice your objection and tell law enforcement that you do NOT consent to a search of your car.

What happens when police find marijuana in your car?

What happens next depends on whether or not police think you are selling pot. Their decision on how to charge you (possession or sale?) is going to be made based on the quantity of marijuana you have, how the marijuana is packaged, and whether you are driving an Escalade with tinted windows and massive chrome rims.

That last indicator might sound like a joke, but it really isn’t. There is a difference between 6 ounces of marijuana in a single (large) Ziploc bag stored in the cupboard of a 60-year-old art history professor, and a single (large) Ziploc bag stuffed into the console of an $80,000 Cadillac driven by a 25-year old kid with baggie pants, gold jewelry, and his cap worn backwards. Both of these people have the same amount of pot, but one of these people is going to get caught, and that person is going to be profiled as a drug dealer. Can you guess which one? (Hint: It’s probably the person with a gun under his seat.)

If you smoke marijuana, whether its for medical relief or recreation, you need to be aware of the laws pertaining to marijuana possession and sale. When you look at the chart below, remember – these are sentences that a court can impose. The whole point of hiring an experienced narcotics defense attorney is to avoid these sentences. Contact Jeannie Michalski for a free criminal consultation so that we can discuss your case.

Law

What does it cover?

Penalty

PL 221.05 Unlawful possession of marihuana (UPM) Violation.Possession of marijuana in an amount of up to 25 grams. (1) First offense: Fine up to $100.00
Second offense within three years: Fine up to $200
Third offense within three years: Fine up to $250 and up to 15 days in jail.
PL 221.10 Criminal possession of marihuana 5th degree. Class B misd.Possession of marihuana open to public view or possession in an amount larger than 25 grams.1 year probation or jail not to exceed three months. Fine up to $500, Surcharge up to $205. DNA sample and $50 fee. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.15 Criminal possession of marihuana 4th degree. Class A misd.Possession of more than 2 ounces of marihuana.3 years probation or jail not to exceed 1 year. Fine up to $1000, Surcharge up to $205. DNA sample and $50 fee. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.20 Criminal possession of marihuana 3rd degree. Class E felony.Possession of more than 8 ounces of marihuana.Probation of 5 years or up to one year in jail, or 1 -1 ½ years in state prison.
Second felony offenders (3): 1 ½ - 2 years in state prison. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.25 Criminal possession of marihuana 2nd degree. Class D felony.Possession of more than 16 ounces of marihuana.Probation of 5 years or up to one year in jail, or 1 -2 ½ years in state prison.
Second felony offenders (3): 1 ½ - 4 years in state prison. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.30 Criminal possession of marihuana 1st degree. Class C felony.Possession of more than 10 pounds of marihuana.Probation of 5 years or up to one year in jail, or 1 -5 ½ years in state prison.
Second felony offenders (3):
1 ½ - 8 years in state prison. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.35 Criminal sale of marihuana 5th degree. Class B misd.Sale without consideration of 2 grams or less of marihuana, or 1 cigarette containing marihuana (1)1 year probation or jail not to exceed three months. Fine up to $500, Surcharge up to $205. DNA sample and $50 fee. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.40 Criminal sale of marihuana 4th degree. Class A misd.Sale of between more than 2 grams and less than 25 grams of marihuana.3 years probation or jail not to exceed 1 year. Fine up to $1000, Surcharge up to $205. DNA sample and $50 fee. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.45 Criminal sale of marihuana 3rd degree. Class E felony.Sale of more than 25 grams of marihuana.Probation of 5 years or up to one year in jail, or 1 -1 ½ years in state prison.
Second felony offenders (3): 1 ½ - 2 years in state prison. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.50 Criminal sale of marihuana 2nd degree. Class D felony.Sale of more than 4 ounces of marihuana, or any weight of marihuana to a person under the age of 18.Probation of 5 years or up to one year in jail, or 1 -2 ½ years in state prison.
Second felony offenders (3): 1 ½ - 4 years in state prison. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).
PL 221.55 Criminal sale of marihuana 1st degree. Class C felony.Sale of more than 16 ounces of marihuana.Probation of 5 years or up to one year in jail, or 1 -5 ½ years in state prison.
Second felony offenders (3): 1 ½ - 8 years in state prison. Six month license suspension (VTL 510(2)(b)(v)).

(1) When the chart refers to “marihuana,” it really means “preparations, compounds, mixtures or substances containing marihuana.” In other words, if you have made a pound of pot brownies out of 24 grams of marijuana, you are on the hook for possession or sale of a pound of pot- not 24 grams. You have also made some pretty potent brownies, so watch what you eat.

(2) A “sale” of marihuana refers to any transfer of the drug, and a prosecutor need not prove that the buyer paid “consideration” to the seller. “Consideration” is any form of payment, whether it is money or some other form of trade of services or goods.

(3) The first felony may not be violent to qualify for this sentencing. For sentences of second-felony offenders with a prior violent felony conviction, see PL § 70.70 (4).

People convicted of crimes under the marijuana laws discussed above may be eligible for release under a Shock Incarceration program or a comprehensive alcohol and substance abuse treatment. Shock Incarceration can result in release after 6 months. Take a look at the pages we have dedicated to these alternatives to incarceration.

The attorneys at Jeannie D. Michalski are experienced with drug laws ranging from marijuana to cocaine to Molly. If you have been arrested on a drug charge, call for a free criminal consultation at our office in Brighton or Avon. (585) 351-2500.