In the past, marijuana possession was heavily criminalized across the United States. However, many states, including Utah, have realized marijuana is not as dangerous as once thought. As such, marijuana has been decriminalized in certain circumstances. While marijuana may not result in criminal charges under specific conditions, it is not completely legal in all cases, and there may be consequences for certain types of unlawful possession.
In Utah, the possession of marijuana for a legitimate medical purpose may not be criminally charged nor punished. However, there are qualifying conditions that must be met before a person is approved to buy and possess legal medical marijuana. To start, you must have a certain medical condition that qualifies you for medical marijuana use. Your condition must be on an approved list or be approved by the Compassionate Use Board on an individual basis. Additionally, legal medical marijuana must be obtained form an authorized distributor and prescribed by a licensed physician.
If you are facing criminal charges for marijuana, call our Salt Lake City marijuana possession attorneys as soon as possible. If you have a medical reason for possessing marijuana, you may have a legitimate defense to your charges. Even if you do not have a medical reason, we can help you fight your case. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to set up a free, private legal consultation with our experienced team.
Legal Possession of Medical Marijuana in Utah
According to the Utah Controlled Substances Act § 58-37-3.7, a person who is arrested by the police for possession of marijuana may not be guilty of criminal possession if they were a medical cannabis cardholder and the amount in question did not exceed legal dosage amounts.
As mentioned, a medical marijuana user is only protected if they do not exceed the legal dosage limits. The legal dosage limit for unprocessed cannabis, including raw buds or flower blister packs, is 113 grams. If you have some other form of medical marijuana or cannabis, you may have no more than 20 grams of THC.
You will also not be protected if you are not a lawful medical marijuana user. Most medical patients approved for medical marijuana use will be issued an identification card permitting them to possess certain amounts of marijuana. If you are not approved, you may not lawfully possess marijuana. To be approved, you must have a medical condition diagnosed by a licensed physician. A list of approved medical conditions can be found under the Utah Health Code § 26-61a-104(2) and includes conditions like cancer, HIV, and Alzheimer’s disease, among others.
If you have a medical need for marijuana but have been charged with illegal possession, call our Park City drug possession attorneys immediately. If you believe you have a qualifying medical condition but have not yet been approved as a medical marijuana user, we can help you with that as well.
When Marijuana Possession in Utah Becomes Illegal
Marijuana possession, although it has been decriminalized in certain circumstances, may still be unlawful. For example, legal possession for medical use only covers certain amounts of marijuana or THC. If you exceed these amounts, you may face legal penalties. Possession is also unlawful if you are not an approved medical marijuana user.
The conditions for illegal marijuana possession can be found under the Utah Controlled Substances Act § 58-37-8. It may be unlawful for someone to knowingly possess a controlled substance, including marijuana, unless it was obtained pursuant to a valid prescription for a medical purpose. If charged, you may face second-degree felony charges for possession of at least 100 pounds of marijuana.
For lesser amounts, you may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for a first or second offense. Any subsequent offenses occurring within seven years may be charged as a third-degree felony.
For a Class A misdemeanor, a convicted defendant may be punished with a jail term of no longer than 364 days and a fine of up to $2,500. For a third-degree felony conviction, a defendant may face a prison term of up to 5 years and fines amounting to $5,000. Finally, for a second-degree felony conviction, a defendant may face no less than 1 year but not more than 15 in prison and fines up to $10,000.
However, you must remember that there are federal marijuana laws at play in addition to the laws of Utah. You may be exempt from Utah’s marijuana laws, but that does not mean you cannot face federal penalties.
If you are facing criminal charges for possession of marijuana, call our Ogden drug defense attorneys for help. We can assess your charges and help you figure out what kind of penalties you may be facing. We can also help you determine the best defense to your charges.
Defenses to Illegal Marijuana Possession in Utah
The issue of marijuana possession and use has become an increasingly hot topic in the legal field. States and cities everywhere have been adjusting their drug laws to be more relaxed on marijuana. Some states have greatly decriminalized marijuana possession, while others have only made exceptions for medical marijuana.
In Utah, you have a defense to marijuana charges if you can prove you have an approved medical condition and obtained the marijuana from an authorized distributor pursuant to a valid prescription. In general, if you can show your medical cannabis identification card, we may be able to get your charges dropped. However, the amount of cannabis in your possession must not exceed the legal limits listed above.
If you are not a medical marijuana user, we may still help you fight your charges. We can challenge your criminal record to prevent your charges from being increased for subsequent offenses. We can also challenge the prosecutor’s contention that you knew about the marijuana. To be convicted of possession, you must have knowingly and purposefully carried the marijuana.
We can also challenge your charges if the marijuana was not lawfully seized. Typically, the police must have a valid warrant to conduct a search and seize evidence or contraband like marijuana. However, they may also search you without a warrant if special conditions are present. If the search and seizure that led to your arrest was not valid, we may have grounds for a defense.
If you are facing charges for marijuana possession, call our West Jordan drug charges lawyers for help. We can examine your charges and the circumstances surrounding your case to determine the best defense possible.
Call Our Utah Marijuana Possession Attorneys
The laws surrounding marijuana possession and use are frequently debated and may change at any time. If you have been charged with possession of marijuana, call our Utah marijuana possession attorneys for help. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 to set up a free, private legal consultation with our dedicated staff.