Pittsburgh Marijuana Lawyers

Information on Marijuana / Cannabis Charges in Pennsylvania

What Happens When You Are Charged with a Marijuana Offense in PA?

Our Pittsburgh Marijuana Attorneys Explain the Process Below – Call for a Free Consultation if you were charged with marijuana possession.

Even though in some parts of Pennsylvania, marijuana is being decriminalized, being charged with marijuana possession can still wreck your future and put a halt to your freedom.

The penalties for being arrested with marijuana are still very strict in Pennsylvania, where marijuana (weed, pot, cannabis) is still illegal for using, growing, distributing, etc.

Unless you are one of the 160,000 medical marijuana card holders in Pennsylvania, you are not allowed to possess or sell marijuana / cannabis.

If you or a family member were recently charged for marijuana possession, you probably have many questions about the penalties, sentencing guidelines, the court process and how best to defend your rights and freedom.

The general sentencing guidelines below provide a basic understanding of the penalties for being convicted of marijuana charges in Pennsylvania.

An Arrest is Not a Conviction

For detailed information on your unique circumstances, call our experienced Pittsburgh Marijuana Attorneys like for a free legal consultation.


If you have been charged with simple possession of marijuana or possession with intent to deliver (PWID) marijuana, call Ketchel Law today. We will help you understand your legal situation and build a strong case to defend your rights.




Many different factors will determine whether you are charged with a small amount of marijuana, simple possession, possession or sale of paraphernalia or possession with intent to deliver (PWID) marijuana (a felony).

If you have been charged with simple possession of marijuana, this means that the police or arresting officers did not find any cause to charge you with intent to grow, distribute or deliver marijuana.

Read below for more information on the penalties and sentencing guidelines in Pennsylvania convictions depending on the amount of marijuana, simple possession or PWID and the number of offenses.

Simple Possession—Less Than Thirty Grams of Marijuana—First Offense

The penalties in Pennsylvania for a small amount of marijuana, even for a first offense marijuana, are pretty tough.

Possession of a small amount of marijuana in Pennsylvania (defined as less than 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams of hashish for personal use) has a maximum penalty of:

  • Up to 30 days in jail;
  • A $500 fine;
  • An automatic license suspension from PennDOT for a minimum of six months, and;
  • a criminal record.

If you are convicted of selling or growing marijuana (30 grams or less) you also face the same penalties.

Furthermore, the charges will go on your permanent record—which could limit your future opportunities for jobs, colleges, housing and insurance. If there have been previous arrests or other criminal charges involved there could be additional penalties tacked on to your sentencing.

Recently, Pennsylvania has expedited the process of a pardon for non-violent marijuana convictions. This could be a big benefit to those who have already been convicted of a small amount of marijuana.

Decriminalization of Marijuana in Pittsburgh and other cities in Pennsylvania is beginning, but this is not the same as legalization. You can still be fined and the drugs seized, even if you are in possession of less than 30 grams.

Simple Possession of Marijuana—Over Thirty Grams—First Offense

If you are convicted of simple possession of marijuana over thirty grams for a first offense in Pennsylvania, you face:

  • A misdemeanor on your permanent criminal record;
  • Up to one year in prison, and;
  • A $5,000 fine.

Other penalties of a marijuana conviction include driver’s license suspension by PennDOT, court costs and fees, and many other losses of basic freedoms, like owning a firearm or losing parental rights of your children.

If this is a second offense or you are facing other criminal charges, sentencing of penalties may be doubled depending on your circumstances.

An experienced attorney can help you try to get your charges lessened or dropped altogether, which could mean a drastic reduction in sentencing and punishment.

There are also first-time offender and diversion programs you may be eligible for, such as the Pennsylvania Probation Without Verdict program, in which your criminal record could be expunged.

Call Attorney Ketchel for a free consultation of your case to learn more.



Jail Time and Penalties for Possession or Sale of Marijuana Paraphernalia

Drug paraphernalia could be any object used to manufacture or distribute marijuana or inhale or become high from marijuana—bongs, water pipes, bowls, ceramic pipes, vaporizers, roach clips, etc.

Any instrument found with marijuana resin could also be considered drug paraphernalia, i.e., a soda pop can.

A conviction for possession or sale of marijuana paraphernalia in Pennsylvania and can mean a penalty of:

  • A misdemeanor on your criminal record;
  • Up to one year in prison, and;
  • Up to $2,500 in fines.

PWID Marijuana—Less Than Thirty Grams of Marijuana—First Offense

If you are charged with cultivating, growing, manufacturing or selling LESS than 30 grams of marijuana or LESS than 8 grams of hashish, under PA law this amount is still considered “personal use”.

Upon conviction you face a misdemeanor and a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail, a $500 fine and an automatic license suspension from PennDOT for a minimum of six months (for a first-time offense).

Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana (PWID Charges)

More Than Thirty Grams of Marijuana

Possession with Intent to Deliver (PWID) marijuana of over 30 grams is a felony and comes with much stricter penalties than marijuana simple possession charges.

Possession with Intent to Deliver charges mean the arresting officers suspected growing/cultivating (manufacturing), selling, distributing or sharing marijuana. PWID is also known as drug trafficking.

A conviction for PWID marijuana or drug trafficking can have severe consequences for you and your family. Penalties could include forfeiture of property, drivers’ license suspension, large fines and prison sentencing.

Sentencing for a PWID marijuana conviction in Pennsylvania has a penalty of:

  • A felony on your permanent record;
  • Up to three years in prison, and;
  • Up to $25,000 in fines.

Other factors, like whether it is a first or second offense, other criminal activity and distributing to a minor or within a school zone, are also determining sentencing factors.


Marijuana or “marihuana” is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Drugs Device Cosmetic Act of Pennsylvania and United States Federal Drug Trafficking Laws.

Schedule I drugs are cited as not having any “medicinal use” and a high addiction rate. So under PA and Federal laws, marijuana is essentially the same as heroin or cocaine.

If you have been charged with drug trafficking or PWID of marijuana, you may be facing charges from both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the U.S. Federal Government.

Title 18, §7508 of The Controlled Substances Act of PA states the following sentencing guidelines for possession of marihuana:

  • At least 2 lbs. but less than 10 lbs. or 10 to 21 live plants: A mandatory minimum of one year in prison and a $5,000 fine for a first offense*.
  • At least 10 lbs. but less than 50 lbs. or 21 to 50 live plants: A mandatory minimum of three years in prison and a fine of $15,000 or more for a first offense*.
  • 50 or more pounds or 51 or more live plants: A mandatory minimum of five years in prison and a fine of $50,000 or more for a first offense*.

If you are charged with more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana, you face up to 10 years in jail and a $100,000 fine.

*Penalties double for subsequent charges or if defendant is convicted of other drug related charges.

For a list of penalties for other drugs read our page on Drug Conviction Penalties in Pennsylvania.

Under U.S Federal Drug Trafficking Convictions, the following sentencing applies:

  • 1 to 49 marijuana plants or less than 50 kilograms of marijuana: Up to five years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 or $1 million if a drug ring is involved (first offense)
  • 50 to 99 marijuana plants or 50 to 99 kilograms of marijuana mixture: Up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000 (individual) for a first offense.


strong drug attorney with experience will fight to get your PWID charges reduced to a Simple Possession charge or a Not Guilty verdict.

Penalties of a Marijuana Conviction could include:

  • Time in Jail or a Lengthy Prison Sentence
  • Substantial Court Costs, Legal Expenses And Fines
  • Loss or Suspension of Driver’s License
  • Forfeiture of Property And Assets
  • Prohibition from Owning and Carrying a Firearm
  • Loss of Employment
  • Loss of Parental Rights
  • Significantly Higher Insurance Premiums
  • Inability to Obtain Insurance Coverage
  • Loss of Eligibility for College Financial Aid
  • Difficulty Finding Employment

DEFEND YOUR RIGHTS—An Arrest is Not a Conviction.

A possession of marijuana charge does not mean you will be convicted. You are presumed innocent of all charges unless a judge or jury finds you guilty.

Even so, Pennsylvania and U.S. prosecutors take marijuana cases very seriously and will do everything they can to get a conviction.

A skilled drug defense attorney will vehemently battle all charges to protect your rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. Call Attorney Justin Ketchel today at 412-456-1221 for a free consultation of your case.

Our Pittsburgh Marijuana Attorneys Can Help

A skilled marijuana attorney could use a number of defenses to battle your marijuana charges and have them reduced, expunged or dropped altogether.

There could be evidence that your Constitutional Rights were violated during the time of arrest or when officials searched the area where the marijuana was located. If police cannot prove probable cause and reasonable suspicion, evidence could be suppressed and your case will be dismissed.

There are also a number of drug diversion and probationary programs in Allegheny County that are available to first-time offenders such as Probation Without Verdict (PWOV), which will result in a full dismissal of charges and expungement of your criminal record.

Contact Attorney Ketchel for a free consultation to find out if you are eligible or could qualify for application.

The marijuana attorneys at Ketchel Law are aggressive and will closely examine every angle of your case and fully investigate your arrest and the circumstances surrounding your charges. We will speak with witnesses and identify any problems with police procedures.

We are experienced attorneys and know how to negotiate with the best interest of our clients in mind. We work with you to find optimal solutions and the best way for you to retain your freedom.


At Ketchel Law, our number one goal is to have your case dismissed and charges withdrawn. If that is not possible, there are numerous ways of attempting a reduction in sentencing such as probation vs. jail.

Talk to an experienced attorney for a free consultation about whether you may be eligible to have your record expunged and how best to fight your charges.

A drug charge does not have to mean a drug conviction.

Learn More About Drug Charges in Pennsylvania: