The federal statute that deals with distribution of marijuana is 21 U.S.C. Section 841. That statute makes distribution of marijuana a federal crime, over and above simple possession. The penalties for marijuana distribution are (to put it mildly) much more severe. As under New Jersey state marijuana convictions, the penalties will vary, depending on the number of prior convictions, as well as the weight of the marijuana involved. Also similarly to New Jersey marijuana laws, growing of marijuana plants is treated under the same statute as distributing. Here are the penalties:
|First Conviction||Second Conviction||Convictions after Two|
|One thousand kilograms or more, or one thousand or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight||Imprisonment between ten years and life, fine up to $10,000,000.00, or both||Imprisonment between twenty years and life, fine up to $20,000,000.00, or both||Imprisonment for life without parole, and fine up to $20,000,000.00|
|One hundred kilograms or more, or one hundred or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight||Imprisonment between five and forty years, fine up to $5,000,000.00, or both||Imprisonment between ten years and life, fine up to $8,000,000.00, or both||Imprisonment between ten years and life, fine up to $8,000,000.00, or both (same as second conviction)|
|Fifty kilograms or more||Imprisonment for up to twenty years, fine up to $1,000,000.00, or both||Imprisonment for up to thirty years, fine up to $2,000,000.00, or both||Imprisonment for up to thirty years, fine up to $2,000,000.00, or both (same as for second conviction)|
|Less than fifty kilograms, or fifty or more marijuana plants, regardless of weight||Imprisonment for up to five years, fine up to $250,000.00, or both||Imprisonment for up to ten years, fine up to $500,000.00, or both||Imprisonment for up to ten years, fine up to $500,000.00, or both (same as for second conviction)|
|“A small amount of marijuana” for no remuneration||Imprisonment for up to one year, fine of $1,000.00 or more, or both, plus “reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution”||Imprisonment for fifteen days to two years, fine up to $2,500.00, or both, plus “reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution”||Imprisonment for ninety days to three years, fine up to $5,000.00, or both, plus “reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution”|
When determining whether a person is to be sentenced as a second (or subsequent) offender, previous convictions need not have been convictions for federal drug crimes. They may have been convictions for federal crimes, State crimes, or any combination of the two. Nor need the prior conviction have been for distribution. Convictions for simple possession for personal use will qualify as prior convictions if the State or federal jurisdiction in which the convictions occurred classified the offense as a felony. However, convictions will be considered “previous” convictions only if the prior convictions or conviction “has become final.”
Numerous factors can enhance the federal penalties indicated above. One penalty-enhancing factor is distribution to a person under twenty-one years of age. A second penalty-enhancing factor is when the distribution (or growing) occurred in or near a school or college. Still another penalty-enhancing factor involves using persons under age eighteen in the operation. The penalties escalate also when death or serious bodily injury result from distributing this deadly weed. And God help you if you carried a gun while commiting the offense. If the convicted person is not an individual (e.g. a corporation), the penalties indicated above are all increased. For example, the maximum fine for a corporation convicted a third time for distributing 1,000 or more marijuana plants is $75,000,000.00.
Allan Marain is a New Jersey federal marijuana defense lawyer. His experience representing persons charged with marijuana- and drug related crimes exceeds forty-five years. He is available to discuss your federal marijuana distribution or growing charges, in a no-charge no-obligation office conference. Call him!
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