Current U.S. Federal Policy and Sentencing for Marijuana Offenses
The States will usually prosecute marijuana offenses. However, based on my experience, the Federal Government may opt to prosecute offenders when the incident involves Federal property (U.S. national forests), cultivating very large quantities of marijuana, crossing state and national borders, exporting out of state, when organized crime is involved and/ or instances in which Federal agents conduct the investigation.
Be aware that Federal Courts mandate five to ten year prison sentences for marijuana/cannabis offenses. i.e over 100 plants or rooted seedlings are punishable by minimum five years; offenses involving 1,000 plants or rooted seedlings are punishable by a minimum of ten years. Unfortunately State Medical Marijuana Laws offer almost no protection in Federal Court. However, in my representation of client’s regarding small amounts of marijuana on federal property, prosecutors have agreed to dismiss when they have a current Medical Marijuana Recommendation.
Seedlings are assigned a weight of 100 grams; this means that 60 plants or 6,000 grams is equal to 6 kilos and is a level 14 offense punishable by up to a 15-21 month sentence. If a plant weighs more than 100 grams, the actual weight is used.
The latest policies under the Trump Administration include an omnibus budget bill passed on March 23, 2018. Contained in that bill is a cannabis provision called the Leahy amendment (formally the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment), which prohibits the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Agency from using tax dollars to interfere with medical marijuana/cannabis businesses and patients in states where medical marijuana/cannabis is legal. We will have to wait and see if the amendment will be expanded upon under the Trump administration to include non-medical adult use. There is pending bi-partisan legislation before congress that would amend the Controlled Substances Act prohibiting its application to States that have legalized marijuana. This includes the manufacture, production, possession, distribution, dispensation, administration or delivery of marijuana..
The Federal guidelines below are used by the judge to consider what sentence to impose and are considered to be the most relevant factor in determining the sentence; however, they are no longer mandatory.
Since medical marijuana is not recognized, pursuant to U.S Congress, federal laws do not protect patients or members of collectives and cooperatives from prosecution. See U.S v. Macintosh 833S3.1163 2016, which provides for the opportunity for a hearing to determine if the defendants actions are in compliance with the State Medical Marijuana Laws .
|Amount of Marijuana||Sentence/Months||Offense Level|
|1 kg -2.5 kg||0-6 months||8|
|2.5 kg – 5 kg||6-12 months||10|
|5 kg – 10 kg||10-16 months||12|
|10 kg – 20 kg||15-21 months||14|
|20 kg – 40 kg||21-27 months||16|
|40 kg – 60 kg||27-33 months||18|
|60 kg – 80 kg||33-41 months||20|
|80 kg – 100 kg||41-51 months||22|
|100 kg – 400 kg||51-63 months||24|
|100kg or More|
|400 kg – 700 kg||63-78 months||26|
|700 kg – 1000 kg||78-97 months||28|
|1000 kg – 3000 kg||97-121 months||30|
|1000k or More|
|3.000 kg – 10,000 kg||121-151 months||32|
|10,000 kg – 30,000 kg||151-188 months||34|
|30,000 kg – 90,000 kg||188-235 months||36|
|90,000 kg or More||235 – 293||38|
Early Plea & Acceptance Responsibility
-2 or -3 at level 16
Organizer or Leader +4
Manager Or Supervisor +3
Lesser Leader +2
Minimal Participants -4
Between Minimal & Minor -3
Abuse Of Position Of Trust +2
Use of Special Skill +2
There are numerous factors (i.e. criminal convictions history) that affect the guidelines and sentencing