Marijuana Crimes

Michigan Marijuana Criminal Defense Lawyer

Marijuana is still Illegal.

Despite the overwhelming approval of medical marihuana in November 2008, the criminal marijuana laws In Michigan did NOT disappear, and the state continues to aggressively prosecute marijuana offenders. Although compared to other states Michigan has lower penalties for simple possession and use of marihuana, it has some of the strictest laws in the country for growing, manufacturing, selling, or distributing marijuana.

Michigan Marijuana Lawyer and Criminal Defense Attorney Bruce Alan Block, P.L.C. has extensive experience defending clients against marijuana charges including: possession, use, manufacture, cultivation, possession with intent to deliver, and maintaining a drug house. Marijuana crimes almost always involve questions related to searches of cars, person, or houses. The first question to ask is: did the police have the right to enter your house, search your car, your garage, your land? Did they have the legal right to search the trunk of your car, your barn, your bedroom, your pants pocket, or purse? If they did not have the lawful right to search, this defense can be timely raised, the evidence suppressed, and the charges dismissed.

It takes experience and practice to spot search and seizure issues. Even if your case never goes to trial, our Michigan marijuana defense lawyer is preparing for that possibility. When you hire our Michigan marijuana lawyer to defend you against criminal marijuana charges, you are hiring an attorney who is experienced to seek practical solutions.

Possession and Use of Marijuana.

Possession of ANY amount of weed, such as a leaf fragment, miniscule residue, a burnt roach, or a single marijuana seed is sufficient to be arrested and charged with possession of marijuana. Possession of marihuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000.

Use of Marijuana (i.e. smoking pot), even if smoked in your own private home or dorm room is a distinct and separate crime. It carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and a $100 fine. This crime can get much more serious if you smoke marijuana in a public place such as a public park. The judge has the discretion to increase the misdemeanor charge to a 2 year felony!

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Growing and Manufacturing Marijuana.

Growing pot or weed, also called "cultivating" and "manufacture," of any amount of marijuana (0 - 20 plants) is a 4 year felony with a maximum possible fine of $20,000. If you are caught with more than 20 marijuana plants, the criminal penalties increase to a maximum of 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. Growing 200 or more marijuana plants bumps the possible prison time to 15 years and you can be fined a whopping $10 million dollars.

The federal government used to take over marijuana cases that involved 100 or more marijuana plants or more than 5 pounds of pot. Since 2015, the federal government has been backing away from pot cases. You should be aware that if your case goes federal, the state charges are dropped, and you are criminally charged for violating federal drug laws. Federal laws are very severe and often have mandatory minimum sentences. For example, if you are busted for growing 120 marijuana plants, under state law you would be facing a fine and typically county jail time (with no prior record). In contrast, the minimum sentence for the same offense under federal law is a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 4 years with no credit for good time.

Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver (PWID).

Selling or distributing marijuana has the same felony penalties as growing or manufacturing marijuana: the amount makes it a 4, 7, or 15 year felony offense with fines up to $20k, $500k, and $10m. However, this marijuana charge differs because you are charged based on the total weight of the marijuana (including 'fillers'), not the number of marijuana plants. The severity of the crime depends on the amount of marijuana: 0 - 4 kilos is a 4 year felony; 5 - 45 kilos is a 7 year felony; and 45+ kilos is a 15 year felony. The feds will sometimes take over the case if the quantity is greater than 5 kilos or 100 marijuana plants when there is a gun or weapon involved and pot is transported across state lines.

"Since most marijuana sales are under 5 kilos, the typical state criminal marijuana charge is the 4 year felony."

The Michigan Medical Marijuana Act created a new 2-year felony charge for any registered qualifying patient or registered primary caregiver who sells marihuana to someone who is not allowed to use marihuana for medical purposes under the Act. The registered patient or registered caregiver will have their registry identification card revoked and is guilty of a 2-year felony in addition to the existing criminal penalties for sale or distribution of marihuana.

Distribution of Marijuana without Payment.

Michigan law makes it a crime to give marijuana free to someone else, even if you are not compensated. Giving marijuana to someone else without payment is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum of 1 year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. The law does not say how much marihuana you can give away for free. In theory, if you gave someone a kilo of marijuana you would get the same penalty as someone who gave their friend a joint. However, it will be difficult to convince a jury that you 'gave' a kilo of pot to someone without expecting anything in return...

Drug Paraphernalia.

Although the state still has a drug paraphernalia crime, it was typically used to stop stores from selling marijuana pipes, in the days prior to medical marihuana. Sometimes, a possession charge is sometimes plea-bargained down to possession of drug paraphernalia. Many cities and township have local ordinances that make possession of drug paraphernalia a 90 day misdemeanor.

There is no state criminal offense for possession of drug paraphernalia. Instead, the police usually seize the offending bong or water pipe and scrape the inside to try and collect enough marihuana residue to charge you with possession of marijuana or use of marijuana.

Sale of marijuana paraphernalia is a 90 day misdemeanor and a fine of up to $5,000. In order to be charged, you must first be presented with a "cease and desist order" and refuse to obey it. If you obeyed the cease and desist order, you can present your compliance as a complete defense.

Second Offense Drug Offender.

If you already have a prior conviction for any drug charge, a second or subsequent offense will take a simple possession marijuana misdemeanor charge and make it a 2-year drug felony. This "Drug Supplemental" doubles the minimum and maximum sentences. Possession with Intent to Deliver, a 4 year felony becomes an 8 year felony if you have a prior Use of marijuana or possession of marijuana conviction or any prior drug conviction.

First Time Drug Offenders and "Section 7411' Status.

Michigan has a special law for first time drug offenders. It is referred to as Section "7411." This law allows drug charges that do not involve delivery or sale to be put on a conditional plea of deferred sentence status. There is no trial. The accused must have no prior drug convictions, and must plead guilty. If the judge approves the 7411 status, they are placed on probation. During this time, they must pay fines, costs, report to probation, complete community service, and are treated as anyone else on probation. At the end of the probation term, if all was done as required the case is closed and there is no public conviction. Section 7411 applies to any illegal drug offense, including cocaine, ecstasy, and heroin, however, 7411 is not available for drug charges that involved delivery or possession with intent to deliver or sell to someone else.

Marijuana and Federal Law.

Marijuana in any form is strictly illegal under federal law. Almost 99% of all marijuana crimes are prosecuted by the states. Federal laws have mandatory minimum sentences, which are harsh. The federal government can take control of any case it chooses. Since state courts do not enforce federal laws, the case progresses through the federal court system.

The typical case the federal government takes are those where there is a large amount of drugs or marijuana plants. The feds also get involved in cases where there is a gun involved, the pot was transported over state lines, interstate drug trafficking, or where there is aggravating circumstances. We have seen the feds take cases involving as little as 77 plants and 1/2 kilo of marijuana. Whether the feds take over a marijuana drug case is a toss up.

Just like state law, the higher the amount, the stiffer the penalties:

  • 1000+ kilos of a mixture that has a 'detectable amount' of marihuana or 1000+ plants = a minimum 10 year prison sentence up to life without parole.
  • 100+ kilos of a mixture containing a 'detectable amount' of marijuana or 100+ plants = a minimum 5-year prison sentence to 40 years without parole.
  • 50 kilos or less of a mixture with a 'detectable amount' of marijuana or 50 plants or 10 kilos of hashish or one kilo of hashish oil = 0-5 years and a fine up to $250,000.
  • There is a misdemeanor offense for those caught with very small amounts of marijuana.

Boats, Lakes, and Indian Casino Lands.

Most large lakes and waterways are under the authority of the Coast Guard and the federal government, as are tribal Indian lands. If you busted in a boat on Lake Michigan or at an Indian casino, you may be arrested and prosecuted by the federal government. Those with state-issued medical marijuana cards should remember that the federal government does not recognize state medical marijuana laws (although the feds have slightly relaxed their strict prohibition for patients who have state medical marijuana ID cards and small amounts possessed according to state laws).

If you are Convicted of a Marijuana Crime, Your Driver's License Will be Suspended.

Any marijuana or drug conviction automatically suspends your Michigan's driver's license for six (6) months - even though there was no automobile involved. The only way to avoid a suspension and not have a conviction on your driving record for the rest of your life is if you qualify and are placed on Section 7411 first offender status. We are experienced. Let our Michigan criminal defense lawyer help you avoid a criminal conviction and loss of your driver's license.

Marijuana Use or Possession - Criminal Penalties.

Use of MarijuanaMisdemeanor 90 days Jail plus $100 fine6 month license suspension
Possession of MarijuanaMisdemeanor 1 year in jail plus $2000 fine6 month license suspension
Possession of Marijuana in a park or public placeMisdemeanor or Felony 2 years in jail plus $2000 fine6 month license suspension

Growing or Cultivating Marijuana - Criminal Penalties.

20 marijuana plants or lessFelony  4 years in prison and/or $20,000 fine6 month license suspension
20 to 200 marijuana plantsFelony   7 years in prison and/or $500,000 fine6 month license suspension
200 (+) marijuana plantsFelony   15 years in prison and/or $10,000,000 fine6 month license suspension

Sale of Marijuana or Possession with Intent to Deliver - Criminal Penalties.

Distribution without paymentMisdemeanor   1 year jail and/or $1,000 fine6 month license suspension
Less than 5 kilos of marijuanaFelony   4 years prison and/or $20,000 fine6 month license suspension
5 to 45 kilos of marijuanaFelony   7 years prison and/or $500,000 fine6 month license suspension
45 kilos or moreFelony   15 years prison and/or $10,000,000 fine6 month license suspension

Drug Paraphernalia.

Sale of Paraphernalia (if a prior cease and desist order) Misdemeanor 90 days in jail and/or $5,000 fine.

Penalties for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs - Marijuana in Michigan.

Michigan has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to driving under the influence of marijuana, cocaine, or any other illegal drug. Impaired driving or drugged driving (DUID) has the same penalties as drunk driving. These are the criminal penalties for driving under the influence of illegal drugs (DUI/DUID).


   1st Offense      Misdemeanor    0 to 93 days in jail, 6 month automatic license suspension
    2nd Offense      Misdemeanor    5 days to 1 year in jail, $1,000 fine license revoked for 1 year
    3rd Offense      Felony    1 to 5 years in prison, $5,000 fine,  5 year license revocation

If you are Busted...


If you are caught with marijuana you should exercise your Constitutional right to REMAIN SILENT during all questioning, and politely but firmly tell the police that you will NOT answer any questions without a lawyer present. Then, contact us as soon as possible.

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