Class D Drugs - Marijuana

     Marijuana is unlike most other criminalized drugs because the sentences for both possession and trafficking are far less severe than most other drugs. Not only has marijuana been decriminalized for certain medical purposes, but in 2008 Massachusetts citizens voted to decriminalize marijuana possession so long as the defendant was carrying less than an ounce of the drug. If a defendant is arrested for possessing an ounce or less or marijuana, instead of being arrested and charged with a criminal offense, he is simply given a civil citation and a $100 fine. If a defendant is found in possession of slightly more than an ounce of marijuana, the penalty is imprisonment for no more than six months as well as a fine of up to $500. 


     In addition, the more marijuana the defendant is in possession of, the more severe the sentence, with the largest amount carrying mandatory minimums. Mandatory minimums are put in place by the Massachusetts Legislature and force judges to give a particular sentence to a defendant, whereas in most cases the judges have more discretion and can base their sentencing on a number of factors, including past arrest history, family and community ties, employment history, and even the defendant’s mental health history. While mandatory minimums are certainly controversial, they still remain in place in Massachusetts and affect a number of defendants charged with possessing a large amount of marijuana. According to Massachusetts law, If a defendant is in possession of 50 pounds or more, the possible jail sentence is 2 ½ to 15 years, and a fine of $500 to $10,000 and a mandatory minimum sentence of 1 year in jail. If the defendant is in possession of 100 pounds or more of marijuana, the defendant can face 2 to 15 years in prison and a fine of $500 to $25,000 and a mandatory minimum of 2 years in prison. If a defendant is in possession of 2,000 ponds or more, the defendant could face 3 ½ to 15 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 to $50,000 with a mandatory minimum of 3 ½ years in prison. Finally, if a defendant is found to be in possession of 10,000 pounds or more of marijuana, the penalty is 8 to 15 years in prison with a fine of $20,000 to $200,000 and a mandatory minimum sentence of 8 years. If a defendant commits a possession crime after already having a previous possession crime on his record, these penalties can significantly increase based on the discretion of the sentencing judge. 


     If a defendant is found to be in possession of a large amount of marijuana, prosecutors will typically attempt to charge possession with intent to distribute, which carries the same penalty as trafficking. Trafficking in Marijuana, which is considered a class D drug, carries a possible sentence of up to 2 years in jail and a fine anywhere from $500 to $5000. In addition, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute carries a mandatory minimum penalty. 

Class D Drug Lawyers at the Law Firm of Altman & Altman, LLP

If you or a loved on is facing Class D Drug charges in Massachusetts, please contact the lawyers at Altman & Altman, LLP.  Our experienced drug lawyers will zealously advocate on your behalf and will fully explain your legal rights.  We are available to speak with you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  All initial consultations with our criminal defense lawyers are free of charge.

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