Under federal law, possession of marijuana is a felony or a Class A misdemeanor, depending on whether the possessor has or has not been previously convicted of a drug offense. This is true even without distribution, or intent to distribute. The maximum punishment does not depend upon the quantity of marijuana possessed. The maximum punishment for possessing one gram of marijuana is identical to the maximum punishment for possessing a ton or more. The federal statute that prohibits possession of marijuana is 21 U.S.C. Section 844.

Although the maximum punishment does not depend on the quantity possessed, it very heavily depends on the number of previous drug-related convictions. Here are the details:

Maximum Federal Punishments for Possession of Marijuana
Number of Prior Convictions
Range of Prison Sentences
Up to One Year
Minimum $1,000.00
Fifteen Days to Two Years
Minimum $2,500.00
Two or More
Ninety Days to Three Years
Minimum $5,000.00


This table applies to federal convictions for simple possession. It does not apply to federal crimes like possession with intent to distribute, or actual distribution of federally controlled substances. And although this table provides information for federal marijuana convictions, it actually applies to all federal drug-related convictions. The prior convictions that can trigger the enhanced punishments specified above need not have been federal convictions. They may have been federal convictions, and they may have been State convictions. Where two or more prior convictions are involved, they may have been any combination of State and federal convictions.

Under New Jersey state law, simple possession of fifty grams or less of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense, and not a crime or felony. A situation exists where federal charges of small amounts of marijuana can be classified in that manner. This situation is where the possession of marijuana offense occurs on federal property. Examples of such federal property are Sandy Hook National Park, Picatinny Arsenal, and McGuire Air Force Base. It will still be a federal offense, and the charges will still be handled in federal court. However, the law that the federal judge will apply will be New Jersey state statutes, and New Jersey cases decided under those statutes.

NJ Marijuana Lawyer and NJ Criminal Defense Lawyer NJ Law Offices of Allan MarainAllan Marain is a New Jersey marijuana lawyer. He has successfully represented hundreds of clients charged with marijuana and marijuana-related offenses. He is available to discuss your situation in a no-charge no-obligation office conference. Call him!

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“Chris Christie is a disgrace not just to NJ and the USA, but to humanity as a whole. His refusal to acknowledge the majority in this country of cannabis supporters is appalling. He is literally the cancer killing our country and we need to bury this sack of garbage in a landfill FAR FAR away from politics.”

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Reefer, pot, weed, grass, Mary Jane, cannabis, ganja, dope, marijuana, marihuana: Call it what you will, spell it as you please, we will defend marijuana charges against you with the benefit of approximately seventy years combined experience handling marijuana and marijuana-related arrests. Centrally located in Middlesex County, New Jersey marijuana lawyers Marain and Epting also handle marijuana arrests and charges arising in Bergen, Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren Counties. Their cases have included marijuana arrests at the Sports Complex, and at the PNC Arts Center in Holmdel. Other frequent hot spots for marijuana arrests handled include Seabright, and Seaside Heights. Rutgers University arrests in New Brunswick and Piscataway number among the frequent fliers. Arrested elsewhere? Call anyway. We can suggest experienced marijuana lawyers in other New Jersey counties, and even in states other than New Jersey.

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