The legal history of marijuana (or cannabis) in the United States refers to the regulation of marijuana use for recreational and medical purposes.
In the U.S., individual states create their own marijuana laws as it pertains to possession, use, intent of distribute etc. in accordance with the federal governments’—and more specifically the FDA’s—regulations on illegal drug use. Because of the variance associated with marijuana laws and the attached punishments, marijuana lawyers are present in each state to defend clients charged with marijuana related misdemeanors or felonies.
A marijuana lawyer will handle cannabis defense in their respective state’s drug court. The role of a marijuana lawyer will vary, based on the state you are charged in and the underlying variables of your charge. As stated above, each state will implement their own laws regarding possession, use and intent distribute; the states then implement unique penalties or punishments for these charges.
The most common drug charge related to cannabis that a marijuana lawyer will litigate is the unlawful possession of marijuana for possession of less than a state-specific allotment. For example, New York defines Unlawful Possession of marijuana as any possession of less than 25 grams or roughly 7/8ths of an ounce. In the state of New York, this possession is not considered a crime, but instead a violation that requires the fulfillment of a $1,000 fine.
In addition to violations, marijuana charges can take the form of a felony. A criminal possession of Marijuana charge will vary—in regards to the amount and intent—based on state law. In New York, Criminal Possession of Marijuana is charged if an individual possesses the drug in a public place where the marijuana is either burning or open for public viewing, where the amount is more than 25 grams but less than 25 ounces. This possession is deemed a crime in the state of New York and carries a class B misdemeanor classification. Any amount above 25 ounces may be deemed felony possession depending on the circumstances surrounding the charges. It is crucial to note, that marijuana laws and all attached penalties or punishments will significantly vary based on individual state.
Aside from recreational use, each state will also implement laws pertaining to the medicinal use of the drug. The medical marijuana regulatory landscape is constantly vacillating; each state and locality produces their own laws regarding the availability of medical marijuana. Furthermore, judicial interpretations of these states laws continue to establish targets for those desiring to use marijuana for medical reasons.
Do I need a Marijuana Lawyer?
As a result of this variance and the complexities that surround marijuana laws, the hiring of a marijuana lawyer is elastic to your specific charges. In turn, your specific charges and the attached penalties will depend on your state’s particular sentiment towards marijuana use or possession. For example, if you are caught with an ounce of marijuana in California, the state’s lax marijuana laws will only yield a low-level misdemeanor and a coordinating small fine. This charge—unless negligence is present on the part of law enforcement agents—will not necessitate the hiring of a marijuana lawyer. By contrast, if you are charged with a similar offense in a state with stricter marijuana laws, the inclusion of a marijuana lawyer in your defense will likely lesson the penalties associated.
Because of the sensitivity for vacillation between states, marijuana charges and the subsequent evaluation for the need of a marijuana lawyer will differentiate based on a case by case circumstance. If your punishment is severe or your charges were unjustly brought on you, you should most certainly evaluate—and subsequently hire—marijuana lawyers in your area.
Searching for Marijuana Lawyers:
When conducting a search for marijuana lawyers in your area, you must utilize all available resources, including the Internet, state-run databases and referrals from friends and family. The inclusion of a Marijuana lawyer--because of the cost and expected benefit--represents a major decision in your life; therefore you must use all resources and allocate substantial time to ensure you choose appropriate representation.
To effectively search for and evaluate marijuana lawyers, you should do the following:
• After you have studied your case and the applicable state laws that surround it, you must conduct Internet searches to find all marijuana lawyers in your area. Conduct Internet searches and visit your states BAR association website to observe a list of all marijuana lawyers in your geographic location. Your states BAR association website will not only list all marijuana lawyers by their practicing county, but also elucidate on their license status and disciplinary actions against, if applicable.
• In addition to Internet searches, you should use peer review services or Internet forums to gauge the effectiveness of your prospective Marijuana lawyer. These resources will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of the marijuana lawyer.
• Consult friends, family members or co-workers who have experienced or are familiar with your legal situation. Utilizing referrals and opinions of those you trust will enable you to gauge the prospective effectiveness of marijuana lawyers in your area.
Costs Associated with Marijuana Lawyers:
The costs associated with a marijuana lawyer’s service will depend on your charges and the professional’s firm. Because the majority of marijuana lawyers defend clients, they will not operate under a contingency fee—this arrangement is typically offered to claimants in a civil suit who seek compensatory retribution. As a result, a marijuana lawyer will typically operate under a retainer agreement or a flat-fee model. The prices associated with marijuana lawyers will vary depending on the severity of your charge. For instance, prominent marijuana lawyers in the state of New York will charge $3,000 for misdemeanor crimes and $5,000 for felony marijuana charges. This fee structure is far from universal; marijuana lawyers institute pricing models as they see fit.