With the increasing legality of marijuana (at the state level), people are reconsidering all of the sentences that have been given out for its use and possession in the past. Sentencing for marijuana-related crimes has always been notoriously harsh at the federal level, because it’s considered a Schedule I substance. Possession with no intent to distribute (determined by having a small amount) is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and a minimum fine of $1,000. People involved in the sale or distribution of marijuana can receive up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
Despite the fact that many states are moving toward legalization, there are some places in the United States where even minor offenses carry fairly large punishments. The following are some of the most strict marijuana laws in the U.S.
- In Arkansas, people caught with as little as four ounces can get up to a year in prison for possession, even if they were first time offenders.
- In Idaho, people caught with less than three ounces of marijuana face up to a year in prison. Possession of more than three ounces can result in a sentence of five years in prison. In 2016, more than 4,000 people were arrested for marijuana possession in that state.
- In Iowa, possession of a very small amount of marijuana, even for a first time offense, can land you six months in prison.
- In Kansas, possession of any amount is punishable with six months in prison.
- In Kentucky, less than eight ounces is punishable with 45 days in jail. If you’re caught with eight ounces or more, it’s considered trafficking, which can result in a one year sentence for first-time offenders, or a one- to five-year sentence for repeat offenders.
- In Michigan, possession of any amount can be punishable with a one year sentence.
- In New Mexico, a first offense possession of one ounce or less has a penalty of 15 days in jail. A second offense can result in a one year sentence.
- In Oklahoma, even a first-time offender caught with any amount can be subject to a year in prison.
- In South Dakota, possession of two ounces or less can lead to a sentence of one year in prison.
- In Tennessee, even first time offenders can spend a year in jail.
- In Utah, less than one once can result in a year in jail.
- In Wisconsin, any amount can lead to six months in jail.
Despite all that, many of these states are at least considering legalizing marijuana or lessening the sentencing. Also, in recognition of the fact that harsh sentencing has unjustly affected many people’s lives – particularly people of color – judges in Seattle have recently decided to throw out all marijuana convictions from 1996 to 2010 (it was legalized there in 2012).
If you or a loved one need help with quitting drugs or alcohol, consider Asana Recovery. We offer medical detox, along with both residential and outpatient programs, and you’ll be supervised by a highly trained staff of medical professionals, counselors, and therapists. Call us any time at (949) 438-4504 to get started.