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State By State Preface

NORML's State Guide to Marijuana Penalties outlines most penalties for prohibited marijuana conduct in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and under federal law. To view the list of prohibited conduct and penalties, click the map icon to the left to find your jurisdiction.

Marijuana laws and penalties change rapidly and are enforced and interpreted differently even in the same legal jurisdiction. Please consult a criminal defense lawyer if you have been busted or if you want to know how a particular conduct might be punished. If you spot an error or have information that should be included in NORML's State Guide to Marijuana Penalties, please inform the NORML Foundation (foundation@norml.org).

Many thanks to Michelle Cockerham, University of Denver law student and NORML's Legal Intern for Summer 2001, for her extensive research assistance in updating this Guide.  Also thanks to John Lucy, University of North Carolina law student and NORML's Legal Intern for Summer 2005, and Paul Varnado of Duke University and a 2005 NORML Summer Intern, for their extensive work in keeping this list up to date.

Please note:

  • The guide does not list penalties for every marijuana offense nor every enhanced sentence such as possessing marijuana near a school, involving a minor, and automatic driver's or professional license suspension. Your state may require an enhanced sentence even if the enhancement is not in the guide.
  • Unless otherwise specified, please assume that listed penalties apply only to first convictions. Prior convictions often place a defendant in a higher penalty range, and convictions while on probation for a previous offense may result in revocation of probation.
  • Except where indicated otherwise, a listed fine is the maximum fine for the conviction and the minimum fine is zero.
  • "Possession" usually means "possessing marijuana only for personal use". If the government accuses you of possessing marijuana for other reasons, the accompanying penalties will probably exceed those for possessing marijuana for personal use. Possessing large amounts of marijuana frequently results in more serious charges of "possession with intent to distribute" , "trafficking", and/or "sale".
  • Many factors contribute to a defendant's sentence. Factors include level of involvement in the prohibited conduct, location, age, presence or absence of minors, use or presence of weapons, conduct for which a person has been acquitted, and many other things.
  • If you are in trouble, please know your rights and hire an attorney.

Warning: The information contained in this report is for informational purposes only. Individuals are encouraged to confirm their state's laws before engaging in any particular behavior, or before going to court without a lawyer.

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Metric units to United States units of measurements:

One ounce (oz.) = 28.35 grams
One pound (lb.) = 16 ounces = 453.59 grams
One kilogram (kg.) = 1,000 grams (g) = 2.2 pounds (lbs.)