In the past few years some states have chosen to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Utah is not among those marijuana friendly states. In Utah the sale and possession of marijuana is still a crime. Here, we will review some of the charges and penalties involved with marijuana use in the 45th state.
"The Law on the Books"
The Utah Controlled Substance statute (found at Utah Code 58-37, et. seq.) prohibits marijuana use or possession. This statute breaks down the different classes of marijuana related offenses.
Selling Marijuana in State
Selling marijuana can get a person in serious trouble. Under the code, the sale of marijuana is a 3rd degree felony. Sales to a minor or those that occur near a school are also felonies that receive an enhancement. Such offenses will be subject to an increase in the degree of felony. In cases where the offense is a first degree felony on its own the sentence increases to a five year prison term.
Possessing Marijuana in Utah
One doesn't have to sell marijuana to get in trouble. Merely having it on your person or in a place under your control is enough to constitute a crime. Under the Utah Code possession of under one ounce counts as a Class B misdemeanor offense. Possession of amounts of up to 16 ounces are chargeable at the more serious Class A misdemeanor level.
When the amount of possession rises above one pound the offense becomes a felony. Prosecutors will most likely charge a 3rd degree felony for weights up to 100 pounds. The higher crime of 2nd degree felony will charged when the weight exceeds 100 pounds. It is also possible to get charged with a 1st degree felony if you have prior convictions.
Trafficking Controlled Substances
Some people may attempt to bring marijuana into the state of Utah for sale or use. This falls under the crime of drug trafficking. It doesn't matter if the defendant legally bought the substance in another state. Once a person crosses Utah's border the possession of marijuana is illegal. Drug trafficking is also punishable under federal law.
Trafficking marijuana carries serious penalties. Under Utah Code §58-37-8 first offenders can get a 3rd degree felony. Repeat offenders will face a 2nd degree felony which can result in up to 15 years in prison and 10,000 in fines.
A Notable Exception
Utah does not provide for a medical marijuana exception in the way that other states do. Utahns may possess of CBD (Cannabidiol) oil to treat epilepsy if a doctor prescribes it . Yet the law as enacted in 2014 does not say how patients can legally acquire the oil. Thus, patients seeking to acquire CBD oil find themselves in a bit of a conundrum.
Don't Play With Marijuana Charges
Make no mistake about it marijuana continues to be illegal in Utah. However, if you find yourself wrongfully charged of a drug offense it is best to consult an attorney right away. The law firm of Spencer and Jensen, LLC is ready to assist those unjustly accused of a crime. Their experienced lawyers will find out if police committed a 4th Amendment violation that could help your case. They will also review your case to determine if any affirmative defenses are available. Contact them now at 801-566-1884.