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Medical Marijuana: What it Means for You, Legal or Not

Medical marijuana is a very controversial topic. Recently, there have been 16 states with pending legislation or ballot measures on medical marijuana: Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Advocates for medical marijuana state that the drug helps with chronic pain, nausea, vomiting, PTSD, and anxiety. They argue that marijuana can help patients cope with serious diseases and conditions like cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, seizures, and glaucoma. Those who are opposed to medical marijuana say the drug would be harder to regulate. They argue it could be a gateway to other drugs or laws, and say there is not enough evidence to prove the benefits of marijuana. With Colorado generating more than $1.4 million in medical marijuana sales tax and fees in its first month of January 2014, marijuana is catching a lot of states’ attention.

In the 2014 Minnesota legislative session, Minnesota proposed a medical marijuana bill (H.F.1818) that if passed would give patients the ability to plant their own plants in their own homes or to purchase marijuana from a state-licensed dispensary. If the bill passes, anyone can obtain marijuana with a prescription. Governor Mark Dayton has been back and forth on the bill, stating he wouldn’t pass it if the police department heads didn’t approve. The Minnesota Medical Association’s Board of Trustees has voted not to support medical marijuana, hindering the chances of the bill passing. Dayton urged legislation to study the issue further or to compromise with law enforcement. Until then, possessing marijuana in the state of Minnesota is illegal.

Drug possession is not something to gamble with, especially when having substances on your property can be enough to be convicted if caught. The sentencing for a drug crime factors in the person’s past criminal record, which makes penalties more harsh for repeating offenders.

The penalty for possession of a controlled substance often depends on the particular type of controlled substance and how much of the substance was found in your possession. There are first, second, and third degrees of drug possession. First, second or third degree felony possession charges carry the potential for severe, life-changing consequences. A first-time conviction of possession of a controlled substance in the first degree carries a penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000,000. According to Minnesota Statute 152.021, Subdivision 2, "A person is guilty of a controlled substance crime in the first degree if the person unlawfully possesses one or more mixtures of a total weight of 100 kilograms or more containing marijuana or Tetrahydrocannabinols."

If you’re up against serious drug charges in Minnesota, call the Law Office of Caroyln Agin Schmidt, either to dismiss or to minimize the consequences for alleged substance possession or other drug-related charges.