As a criminal defense attorney in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I have defended those who have been accused of marijuana possession. Possession of marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania and any amount of marijuana possessed can result in a jail sentence. Legislation has been introduced in the Pennsylvania’s House and Senate that would legalize the use of medicinal marijuana. But, until then, possession of marijuana in Pennsylvania is illegal. In this article, I will discuss the penalties for possession of marijuana, DUI checkpoint, sobriety tests, and the state’s Implied Consent law.

What are the Penalties for Possession of Marijuana in Pennsylvania?

The penalties for marijuana possession in Pennsylvania often depend on the amount of marijuana you have when arrested and your intended use. The more you possess, the stiffer the penalties. Possessing marijuana in Pennsylvania is punishable by both imprisonment and fines.

As of January 31, 2017, possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana for personal use can be punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $500 while possessing more than 30 grams for personal use is punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of $5,000.

The penalties for these misdemeanors double if arrested again for the same offense. For example, an arrest for the second time of being in possession of more than 30 grams of marijuana, may bring a sentence of up to two years in jail and a fine of $10,000.

DUI Checkpoints and Implied Consent

A drunk driving checkpoint is also a drugged driving checkpoint. Law enforcement is trying to weed out impaired drivers. By virtue of the fact that you are driving in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, you have given law enforcement “implied consent” to perform tests necessary to determine if you are impaired by an illegal substance. The Pennsylvania General Assembly, under Title 75 Section 1547, explains implied consent as:

  • Any person who drives in Pennsylvania shall be deemed to have given consent to chemical tests of breath, blood or urine for the purpose of the presence of a controlled substance. Id. § 1547(a).
  • If any person placed under arrest is requested to submit to chemical testing and refuses to do so, the testing shall not be conducted but upon notice by the police officer, the department shall suspend the operating privilege of the person from 6-18 months. Id. § 1547(b)(1).
  • The person tested shall be permitted to have a physician of his own choosing administer an additional breath, blood or urine chemical test and the results of the test shall also be admissible in evidence. The chemical testing given at the direction of the police officer shall not be delayed by a person’s attempt to obtain an additional test. Id. § 1547(h).

If suspected, you can be ordered to take a field sobriety test and failure to comply will result in arrest, loss of license, and possible jail time.

I sincerely hope that you never need to defend yourself from drug allegations but should the situation arise, it is critically important to know your rights. Should you need legal representation for this or any type of criminal matter, contact the Fishman Firm to discuss your rights and options for moving forward.