No, marijuana is not legal in Philadelphia, though it has been decriminalized. That means you likely won’t be arrested or charged with a crime for possessing, smoking, or buying “small amounts” of the substance. You could, however, receive a Civil Violation Notice (CVN) and a fine, according to City Code Chapter §10-2100.
But there are many situations in which you could face more serious charges for marijuana in Philadelphia. Whether you can be arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or felony depends on the amount of marijuana in your possession, what you were doing at the time of being caught, and whether you were selling or had the “intent to sell.”
It’s important to understand how Philadelphia’s complex cannabis laws work so you know your rights and know what to expect if you’re stopped.
Is Marijuana Legal in Pennsylvania?
Recreational marijuana is not legal in Pennsylvania. Throughout the entire Commonwealth, marijuana is still considered a controlled substance that can carry harsh penalties in some situations and areas.
Medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania. You’re only legally allowed to purchase, possess, and use medical marijuana products if you have a valid medical marijuana card. And you can only buy and consume medical marijuana purchased at a Department of Health-licensed dispensary.
As stated previously, marijuana is still illegal in Philadelphia and you face receiving a CVN (similar to a ticket) and a fine. These civil offenses generally do not show up on a criminal record or driving record. Even if you purchase marijuana in a state where it’s legal, like nearby New Jersey, you can still face civil penalties.
For a free legal consultation, call 215.515.3360
What Types of Marijuana Use are Legal in Philadelphia?
Again, any amount of marijuana is not considered legal in Philadelphia. But “small amounts” of marijuana have been decriminalized. “Small amount” generally refers to 30 grams (approximately 1 ounce) or less of marijuana. According to the Philadelphia Police Department, small amounts of marijuana could include:
- Up to 70 marijuana cigarettes
- Up to 60 $5 bags
- Up to 30 $10 bags
In Philadelphia, it is legal to use, possess, or purchase medical marijuana per a prescription. The marijuana product must be from a legal medical marijuana dispensary. Consuming marijuana not prescribed or from a source other than an approved dispensary could land you with a CVN.
What Are the Penalties for Marijuana in Philadelphia?
If you are found to be in possession of a small amount of marijuana in Philadelphia, you could face a CVN plus a $25 fine. If you are found smoking in public and in possession of a small amount of marijuana, you could face a CVN and a $100 fine.
Adults are usually not detained for marijuana use, possession, or purchase. Minors, those under the age of 18, may be detained but not criminally charged. Parents or a legal guardian and the minor may receive a CVN and have to pay fines.
Are There Situations Where You Can Be Arrested for Marijuana in Philadelphia?
Yes, there are situations in which you could be arrested and even face criminal charges for marijuana in Philadelphia.
You may be arrested, taken to the police station, and given a CVN if you:
- Fail to provide legal ID when being stopped by an officer
- Provide fake ID when stopped by an officer
- Present an “imminent threat of violence”
- Flee or attempt to flee the scene when stopped by an officer
You may be arrested and face criminal charges if you are committing other offenses while using, in possession of, or purchasing any amount of marijuana in Philadelphia. Some examples include:
- Violating your parole or probation
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI)
- Growing marijuana or making marijuana products, even if you don’t intend to sell, no matter the amount
- Delivering any amount of marijuana
- Bringing in legally purchased marijuana from a state where it’s legal, like New Jersey
If you are using, in possession, or caught purchasing over the “small amount,” you could face criminal charges. In some cases, an officer may see an amount over 30 grams as an “intent to sell.” And selling is still a felony unless you are a licensed dispensary.
Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project
While marijuana is not legal in Philadelphia or Pennsylvania, the law is trying to help Pennsylvania citizens who’ve been charged with minor, non-violent marijuana convictions. In September 2022, Governor Wolf announced a “large-scale pardon” known as the Pennsylvania Marijuana Pardon Project.
Persons with qualifying convictions who applied are supposed to hear from the Board of Pardons in December 2022. If you believe your conviction qualifies and you missed the deadline, there are still options for clemency and expedited pardons.
Facing Drug Charges in Philadelphia? Get Legal Support Today
The marijuana laws in Philadelphia and surrounding areas can be complex. Many factors can change a civil offense for use or possession to a criminal charge. That’s why it’s important to stay informed of the marijuana laws in Philadelphia as the city maintains decriminalization and even works toward legalization.
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges for any amount of marijuana, a criminal defense lawyer from the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC can help. Contact our office today for a free consultation.