Marijuana, whether you spell it "marihuana," as Alabama law does, or call it pot, weed, grass, ganja, Mary Jane, chronic, or anything else, is a common, yet controversial drug. Marijuana law is currently going through a great deal of change throughout the country. Colorado and Washington state have legalized the use of recreational marijuana. Over 23 states have legalized medical marijuana, and this number continues to grow. Also, 18 states, including Alabama’s neighbor Mississippi, have decriminalized the first-time possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Generally, in these states you can still get a ticket and have to pay a fine if caught with a small amount of marijuana, but jail time isn’t possible.
Alabama has essentially none of these legalization or decriminalization laws. Therefore, almost all forms of marijuana possession, sale, or trafficking in Alabama is illegal. The only legal form of marijuana in Alabama is CBD or cannabidiol, which is a compound in cannabis that has medical effects without the THC to get you high. Patients with debilitating epileptic conditions can use CBD as part of state-sponsored clinical trial at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Alabama legislators authorized this study on CBD in Senate Bill 174 in 2014.
The table below outlines Alabama’s main marijuana laws.
|Code Sections||Alabama Code Sections:
|Possession||There are two degrees or levels of unlawful possession of marijuana in Alabama. First degree is possessing marijuana for something other than personal use or for personal use after a previous conviction of unlawful possession of marijuana. This is a Class C felony (the lowest level of felony in Alabama). This can get you between 1 and 10 years in prison and up to a $15,000 fine.
Possession of pot for personal use is only a Class A misdemeanor (the highest misdemeanor in Alabama). This is possession in the second degree. A Class A misdemeanor can be sentenced to not more than a year in jail and up to a $6,000 fine.
|Sale||Selling, delivering, or distributing marijuana and other drugs or controlled substances is illegal. The unlawful distribution of marijuana is a Class B felony subject to 2-10 years in prison and up to a $30,000 fine.
Because Alabama wants to protect its children from drug sales, if you’re an adult over 18 and you sell marijuana to a child under 18, the penalty is increased to a Class A felony. Class A felonies are subject to 10-99 years or life imprisonment and up to a $60,000 fine. On top of that, selling marijuana within 3 miles of a public or private school or university can receive an additional penalty of 5 years in prison, during which you can’t receive probation.
|Trafficking||Trafficking in cannabis or selling, cultivating, or transporting any marijuana, hash, seeds, synthetic tetrahydrocannabinols (THC), etc. is illegal in Alabama. It’s a Class A felony, but the mandatory minimum sentences are based on the amount of marijuana trafficked:
In addition, under the Alabama Drug Trafficking Enterprise Act a person who manages at least 5 people and gets a substantial income from the marijuana trade faces higher fines and longer minimum sentences. For a first conviction, the mandatory minimum is 25 years in prison with a fine between $50,000 and $500,000. For a second conviction, the leader is facing life in prison without parole and a $150,000 to $1,000,000 fine. The sentences under this law cannot be less than what the defendant faces under the trafficking and habitual offender laws alone.
Note: State laws change regularly, so be sure to verify any state laws you’re researching.
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