Your teen was just caught smoking a marijuana joint at a college party when the police showed up to shut it down. Now law enforcement has charged your son or daughter with marijuana possession. For your teen, smoking the joint seemed innocent enough. Colorado, Washington and several states allow recreational marijuana use. But Pennsylvania does not. In addition, the federal government still classifies marijuana and cannabis products as Schedule II drugs.

According to current Pennsylvania law, a teen or anyone else cannot possess marijuana unless it complies with the state medical cannabis laws. Parents and students are often shocked to learn that the current laws and penalties regarding marijuana possession are substantial.

Penalties for small possession

The Pennsylvania Controlled Substances, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act states that an amount of 30 grams of marijuana or 8 grams hashish or less is a misdemeanor, which carries with it a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and fine up to $500. Obviously, a teen smoking a small amount of marijuana at a party does not rise to possession with the intent to distribute. But in cases that it does, the charges rise to a felony. 

Possible driver’s license suspension

But marijuana possession charges do not simply end there. Law enforcement can suspend your driver’s license on a first-offense marijuana possession, even if you weren’t driving. A first offense carries a six-month license suspension, a second offense is one year of suspension, and a third or subsequent office will result in two years of suspension.

Pennsylvania imposes stiffer penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia. Law enforcement steps up charges and fines for possessing a hash pipe, a pot bong, or other related items to one year in jail and $2,500 fine.

Be aware of current laws

A teen or college-age student needs to recognize and acknowledge the current Pennsylvania marijuana possession laws. While other states have repealed some marijuana and cannabis laws and allow recreational use, Pennsylvania still enforces minor possession. The legal system can impose jail time, fines and a loss student’s driving privileges for a conviction. Students should consider all these risks when possessing or using this drug.