You think possession of an ounce or less of marijuana in Massachusetts is now not a crime…that's not always the case.

Our office was recently retained by an individual in Boston who was arrested and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Marijuana under M.G.L. c. 94C § 32C.  The issue is that the amount of marijuana is under an ounce.  Many people mistakenly believe that if they possess an ounce or less of marijuana that they cannot be charged with the crime.

As most may know by now, Massachusetts has decriminalized possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.  So it is not a crime to possess one ounce or less. The new marijuana law is governed by Massachusetts General Law Chapter 94C § 32L, which states:

“Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, possession of one ounce or less of marijuana shall only be a civil offense, subjecting an offender who is eighteen years of age or older to a civil penalty of one hundred dollars and forfeiture of the marijuana, but not to any other form of criminal or civil punishment or disqualification.”

The penalty for possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is a bit different in the offender is under 18 years of age.  Therefore, under this new law unless other circumstances exist the mere possession of one ounce or less of marijuana is not criminal and only subject to a $100.00 penalty or fine.

So how then was our client charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute (Class D) Marijuana, which is still a crime under M.G.L. c. 94C § 32C?  Well, in certain situations how the marijuana is packaged, the amount of money on the person charged and any drug paraphernalia present, among other factors, all play a part in determining whether the marijuana is possessed for personal use or possessed with the intent to distribute.

The facts and circumstances of each case must be analyzed to determine if a Motion to Dismiss the criminal charge should be filed and also whether the police violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.  A violation of constitutional rights in stopping and searching a person charged with a crime may result suppression of the items seized (in this case the marijuana) and ultimately in a dismissal of the criminal charges.  Additionally a tactical and persuasive argument in your case for personal use is extremely important in successfully defending a charge of intent to distribute marijuana.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys can help someone in these situations defend drug charges or argue for a reduction of charges and lesser penalties.