Recently, four states made headlines as their legislators began the process to decriminalize recreational marijuana. If these bills in New Jersey, Arizona, South Dakota and Montana pass, they would legalize the possession and usage of both medicinal and recreational marijuana. Currently, in the states where weed is not fully legalized, you can be arrested and charged for the following:
- Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana
- Possession of drug paraphernalia (i.e. bong, pipe, joints, etc)
- Possession with distribution intent
- Drug trafficking
A charge for the first two offenses is categorized as a misdemeanor and can result in a $100-500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. A charge for the second two offenses is considered a felony and can result in a $20,000 fine and up to 20 years in jail. These numbers can fluctuate based on past offenses and amount of marijuana in possession, as a drug lawyer in Hayes Valley San Francisco, CA, like from Hallinan Law Firm, can explain.
As talks about marijuana decriminalization and legalization increase, it’s important to understand the full impact of these new laws on both recreational and medicinal users.
How Many Americans Have Used Marijuana?
According to a 2018 study from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health, over 48 percent of Americans (https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2018-nsduh-detailed-tables) have reported using marijuana at least once in their lives. However, the majority are not frequent users. Of those surveyed, only 16 percent reported using within the past year, and only 11 percent reported using within the past month.
To compare, the same study found that over 86 percent of Americans have reported drinking alcohol at least once in their lives and 66 percent have reported using tobacco products.
How Many Americans Support Marijuana Legalization?
A 2019 Pew Research study found that two-thirds of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, showing a steady increase in public support of decriminalization. The majority of these supporters were born between the years of 1946-97, falling into the Baby Boomer, Gen X and Millennial categories. Support also tends to fall on political party lines, with 78 percent of Democrats supporting legalization and 55 percent of Republicans. However, since the 1960s when the legalization talks began, support has dramatically risen across all age groups and political parties.
While more states have begun the legalization process, recreational usage is still illegal in 35 states and full usage is illegal in six states (Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming, Kansas and Idaho). If you were arrested for drug possession in any of these states, you should contact a DWI attorney to discuss your rights and options.