In honor of 4/20, (okay, maybe a little after 4/20…) Brandt Kettwick Defense is here to explain the differences between legalized marijuana, decriminalized marijuana, and medical marijuana so you can celebrate responsibly.
It is important to know that, as of now, only medical marijuana and THC infused edibles with less than 5mg per serving are legal in Minnesota. While recreational marijuana is not fully legal, Minnesota has also decriminalized marijuana to some extent. This means that, in some instances, possession of a small amount of marijuana will only result in a fine with no possibility of jail time. Because there is no possibility of jail time, this charge is considered a petty misdemeanor–like a traffic ticket. Click here to learn what crimes you can be charged with if you are in possession of various amounts of marijuana.
Wait, so decriminalized doesn’t mean legal?
No, decriminalized and legal are not the same thing. When marijuana is legalized it means that an adult can legally possess and use marijuana without facing consequences for possession and use. In contrast, decriminalizing marijuana just means that there are laws or policies adopted which reduce the penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana, making it a “noncriminal” offense for which one can only be fined. This can change depending on the amount of marijuana they possess and the number of previous offenses.
In Minnesota, possession of 42.5 grams or less if it is not in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle is a petty misdemeanor. Possession of 1.4 grams up to 42.5 grams in the passenger compartment of a motor vehicle is a misdemeanor and possession of more than 42.5 grams of marijuana is a felony. Possession of any amount of THC in a wax form or in edibles that don’t meet the regulations set forth in 2022, is a felony.
What about medical marijuana?
There are state laws which allow an individual to possess marijuana if the defendant can prove a medical need for marijuana under state law. For a patient to receive medical cannabis, the law requires that a licensed health care practitioner certify that the patient has one or more of the qualifying conditions. More about qualifying conditions can be found on the Minnesota Department of Health website. To qualify for medical marijuana in Minnesota, the patient must be a resident of the state where they are registered, and the patient must re-enroll in the program annually. As of now, it is illegal to smoke medical marijuana and medical marijuana must be consumed as an oil, pill, tincture, or another method besides smoking.
So, is marijuana legal or decriminalized everywhere?
Under federal law, marijuana is still illegal and is classified as a Schedule 1 Drug. This means that even though marijuana may be legal in some states, people can still be prosecuted for federal crimes involving marijuana. However, this usually does not happen for small amounts of marijuana and the federal government is more likely to get involved when there are exacerbating factors. Such factors can include drug trafficking, use of firearms in cultivating and distributing marijuana, and protecting public safety (the government has an interest in stopping people from driving while high or growing marijuana on public land). This is not an exhaustive list; rather, it is meant to give an idea of what might be considered an exacerbating factor.
To see a map of marijuana legality by state, click here.
What should you do if you are charged with a crime for possessing marijuana?
Call Brandt Kettwick Defense! Our firm has represented hundreds of clients charged with drug offenses and we can help you. To find an attorney, click here!