Marijuana Drug Classifications Federal And State
According to government surveys, over 20 million Americans have smoked marijuana in the past year and more than 15 million do so regularly despite strict federal laws prohibiting its use and sale.
As of 2016, there are nearly thirty-states that have either declassified marijuana use criminally, allowed for its medical use or have outright legalized marijuana for recreational use.
Federal System – Prison
While not all federal marijuana convictions mandate prison, those that do, require defendants to serve a minimum of 85% of their maximum sentence. Federal courts are permitted to take into account for sentencing purposes not only the quantity of marijuana in a defendant’s possession, but also whether that defendant has a criminal record relating to prior drug convictions.
Federal Government Classifies Marijuana As Dangerous Controlled Substance
The federal government regulates and controls the possession and distribution of all drugs through the Federal Controlled Substances Act. The full text of the Federal law can be found at 21 U.S.C. Sec. 811. All drug laws are enforced by federal enforcement agencies such as the DEA.
The federal government still does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of marijuana and therefore currently treats the use of marijuana like any other controlled substance. Marijuana has been classified by the federal government as a Schedule-One controlled substance. The same classification as heroine and cocaine. Under federal law, schedule-one drugs are characterized as being both highly addictive as well as lacking any serious medical value. As such, doctors under federal law are not allowed to legally prescribe marijuana for medical use.
While federal courts are no longer required to follow mandatory sentencing guidelines, the federal district courts may, and often do use mandatory sentencing guidelines as advisory. However, there are still mandatory minimum sentences for convictions involving substantial quantities and large-scale cultivation of marijuana. For example, a conviction involving the cultivation of one hundred plants will result in a mandatory minimum sentence of five-years. Other extenuating or compounding circumstances resulting in harsher sentencing of marijuana offenders include the sale and possession in close proximity to school zones. These drug-free zones can result in doubling the maximum sentences in federal marijuana cases. Also, the use or possession of firearms will result in longer prison terms.
In October of 2015, the Justice Department declared it will release roughly 6,000 inmates from federal prisons as part of an effort to ease overcrowding and roll back the harsh penalties given to nonviolent drug dealers, many of which involve the use and cultivation of marijuana. Nearly 10,000 more are expected to be released in 2016.
Summary of Federal Marijuana Penalties
Possession: Possession of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction. For a second conviction, the penalties increase to a 15-day mandatory minimum sentence with a maximum of two years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Subsequent convictions carry a 90-day mandatory minimum sentence and a maximum of up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
Sale: Distribution of a small amount of marijuana, for no remuneration, is treated as possession. Manufacture or distribution of less than 50 kilograms of marijuana is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. For 50 kilograms or more the penalty increases to a possible 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000. Manufacture or distribution of 100 kilograms or more carries a penalty of 5 – 40 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,000,000. For 1000 kilograms or more, the penalty increases to 10 years – life in prison and a fine of up to $4,000,000. Distribution of greater than 5 grams of marijuana to a minor under the age of 21 doubles the possible penalties. Distribution within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, public housing or within 100 feet of a youth center, public pool or video arcade also doubles the possible penalties.
Familiar Marijuana Vocabulary
Medical marijuana, dispensaries, medical marijuana ID cards, medical marijuana physicians, sativa, pot, weed, ace, gungeon, gunja, kif, hemp, gunney, moocah, skin, sticks, hash, joint, blue sage, bud, bush, cannabis, canamo, tea, catnip, kush, columbian, gasper, grass, gong, herb, hay, indo, jane, kali, kiff, leaf, lid, panama gold, panama red, primo, roach, smoke,vape, straw, reefer, and herb.