As of 2017, twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have laws which legalize marijuana in some way, whether for recreational or medical purposes. Alabama, however, is not one of these states. So, while breaking marijuana laws may seem like casual civil disobedience, in Auburn, it is very much still a crime to possess, use, or cultivate marijuana in any form. In this article, we will explore possession of marijuana charges in Auburn, Alabama.
Marijuana Possession Laws in Alabama
In 2015, marijuana possession resulted in 26 percent of all drug related arrests in Alabama, the highest number of any other drug; and, while some organizations are arguing for reform of Alabama’s marijuana laws, this change has yet to come to Alabama. According to Alabama statutes, there are two different degrees of possession offenses, each with their own definitions and implications. First degree possession is a felony, while second degree is a misdemeanor; however, neither charge looks good on a criminal record.
Second Degree Possession of Marijuana: Alabama Code § 13A-12-214
Second degree marijuana possession is a charge meant for individuals facing their first marijuana related offense. According to Alabama code § 13A-12-214, a person commits the crime of possession in the second degree if, “he possesses marijuana for his personal use only.”
But how is “personal use” determined? “Personal use” is more of a fact specific definition. Even if the amount of marijuana is small, if it is divided up for sale or is in some format that isn’t traditionally for personal use.
Personal use is a flexible amount. We have had to make the argument that a 1.5 pound was for personal use when the Defendant was a heavy smoker. It is not a good argument to try to make to a jury.
Note: anything over 2.2 pounds is considered trafficking marijuana in Alabama. As long as the defendant has no prior marijuana convictions, second degree possession is a class A misdemeanor, and penalties for this offense can include jail time of up to one year and fines.
First Degree Possession of Marijuana: Alabama Code § 13A-12-213
First degree marijuana possession is a felony offense, and is a charge intended for individuals who possess marijuana in an amount over the “personal use” classification, or individuals who have been previously convicted with possession of marijuana in the second degree. As codified in Alabama Code § 13A-12-213, possession in the first degree is a class C felony, a charge with penalties of up to 10 years in prison and fines.
How Do Most Auburn University Students get Caught?
Often, students are charged with possession because they are in possession of marijuana paraphernalia and haven’t cleaned it properly. For example, if you have a grinder in your vehicle, a police officer may smell the marijuana, search the vehicle, find the grinder, and find trace amounts of marijuana left on the grinder. The student is then charged with both possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of marijuana second.
If you have any further questions, contact us at (334) 737-3733.
Photo by Michael Fischer from Pexels