Despite the legalization of medical marijuana in over half the states (including Florida) and the recreational use of marijuana in a handful of those states, the possession or distribution of marijuana remains illegal under United States federal law. In fact, marijuana continues to be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA). Scheduled I substances are those that have a high potential for abuse, lack any medical value, and cannot be safely prescribed. The ongoing conflict between many state and federal laws means you could be operating a seemingly legitimate marijuana distribution business under state law while simultaneously violating federal marijuana distribution laws.
At Haas Law, we have the skills and experience necessary to successfully defend clients charged with federal distribution of marijuana. If you are facing federal charges related to the distribution of marijuana, we are committed to zealously protecting your rights and defending the charges against you.
Potential Punishment for a Marijuana Distribution Conviction
Given the nationwide campaign to legalize marijuana, it can be tempting to forget that it remains illegal under federal law. It can also create a legal quagmire for anyone involved in the cultivation, distribution, or sale of marijuana in a state that has legalized medicinal and/or recreational use of marijuana. It is imperative to keep in mind that under U.S. federal law, the penalties for distribution of marijuana, if convicted, can be serious, including:
- Less than 50 kilograms of marijuana, less than 49 marijuana plants up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $250,000 (first offense) or up to ten years in prison and/or a fine of up to $500,000 (second offense) for an individual. The fines increase to $1 million and $2 million respectfully if the defendant is a company or organization.
- 50 to 99 kilograms of a marijuana mixture, 50 to 99 marijuana plants, or more than 10 kilograms of Hashish up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $1 million (first offense) and up to 30 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $2 million (second offense). For a company or organization, the potential fines increase to $5 million and $10 million.
- 100 to 999 kilograms of a marijuana mixture or 100 to 999 marijuana plants not less than five years or more than 40 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5 million (first offense) and not less than 10 years up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $8 million. The potential fine is increased to $25 million or $50 million respectively for a company or organization.
- 1,000 kilograms or more of a marijuana mixture or 1,000 or more marijuana plants not less than 10 years up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $10 million (first offense) and not less than 20 years up to life in prison and/or a fine of up to $20 million. For a company or organization, the potential fines increase to $50 million and $75 million.
Note that if death or serious bodily injury occurs as a result of the underlying offense, the potential term of imprisonment is increased.
Marijuana Distribution Defenses
Although the federal government has effectively entered into an uneasy “ceasefire” with the states that have legalized marijuana, federal prosecutions for the distribution of marijuana have not come to a screeching halt. If you have been arrested and charged with marijuana distribution at the federal level it is in your best interest to take the allegations against you seriously. A skilled federal defense attorney may use any of several strategies to help you avoid a conviction. Which defense is available in your case will depend on the facts and circumstances involved in your case; however, some common defenses include:
- Excluding evidence obtained through an illegal search and seizure. Among your many constitutional rights is the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. When law enforcement officers conduct a search that violates that right, any evidence seized during that search must be excluded at trial, meaning it cannot be used against you.
- Failing to prove guilt. In any criminal prosecution, the prosecution (in this case the U.S.) must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. That standard of proof is the highest standard available and when interpreted correctly, requires the prosecution to present overwhelming evidence of a defendant’s guilt. If the prosecution’s case against you is lacking that evidence, your attorney may rely heavily on convincing the judge or jury that the prosecution failed to meet its burden of proof.
- Arguing that you were abiding by state law. While this is not technically a defense, if you were part of a legitimate marijuana business that was compliant under state law, your attorney may be able to use proof of your legitimate activities to get the charges against you reduced or even dismissed.
Get Help from Experienced Orlando Marijuana Distribution Federal Defense Attorney
If you are facing federal marijuana distribution charges, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected and to begin working on your defense.
At Haas Law, our federal marijuana distribution defense attorneys have the experience and conviction necessary to defend you in federal court. We are dedicated to protecting you and your rights as well as providing a zealous defense to the government’s case against you.
Call us at 407-755-7675, chat with us online, or submit our online form today. Because we understand that time is of the essence when federal law enforcement authorities are investigating you, our calls are answered 24 hours a day, allowing you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible to discuss your legal options.