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Indianapolis Criminal Attorney
John "Jack" Razumich
Criminal Attorney
Andrew Redd
Criminal Attorney


Understanding the Criminal Justice System

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Indiana Law vs. Federal law: How are Marijuana Crimes Punished?

Although numerous states have legalized marijuana use, it continues to be illegal under both federal and Indiana law. Anyone who grows, markets, distributes, or possesses marijuana in Indiana is almost certainly breaking the law. Both federal and state statutes have classified it as a Schedule I controlled substance, which is a category of drugs that law-makers deemed to have a high potential for abuse and no medicinal value.

The most significant difference between state and federal law for marijuana-related offenses, however, are the penalties.

Indiana penalties for marijuana possession

Indiana Code § 35-48-4-10 governs penalties for the possession or sale of marijuana and its derivatives. For example:

For a first drug offense, possession of any amount of marijuana is a Class B misdemeanor. You can be punished up to 180 days in jail or fined up to $1,000 or both. (Note, however, that in September 2019, the Marion County prosecutor declared that he would no longer prosecute cases of marijuana possession where the amount was under one ounce.)

If you possess less than 30 grams of marijuana and a prior drug conviction, it’s a Class A misdemeanor. You can be punished with up to a year in jail, or fined up to $5,000 or both.

If you are caught possessing 30 grams or more of marijuana, and you have a prior drug conviction, the violation is a level 6 felony. The penalty is between six months to 2-1/2 years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both.

The penalties for manufacturing or selling marijuana vary depending on the amount of the drug at issue. At a minimum, you could get up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine; larger amounts may bring you up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Federal penalties for marijuana possession

Under federal law, the first offense for marijuana possession is a misdemeanor that can bring up to a year of jail time and up to $1,000 in fines. A second offense is also a misdemeanor but can bring up to two years of jail time, with a mandatory minimum of 15 days. You may also have to pay a $2,500 fine. A third offense may be a misdemeanor or a felony, punishable by up to three years of jail time (with a 90-day minimum) and a fine of up to $5,000.

If you are convicted of growing or selling marijuana, the penalties are more severe and vary depending on the amount. Selling 50 kilograms or less is punishable by up to 5 years of jail time and $250,000 in fines. If you sell or distribute 1,000 kilograms or more, you can get ten years to life in jail, and up to $1 million in fines. In some cases, you may receive a mandatory minimum sentence, and the government may forfeit your property.

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