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What are the punishments for marijuana possession?

Both the legal attitudes and public perceptions of marijuana have changed. What was once a taboo substance has become more accepted than ever nationwide and in the Midwest.

While marijuana has gained greater acceptance and legalization across the country and as close to Iowa as Illinois, it is important to remember that Iowa has not yet fully embraced the legalization of marijuana. Recreational marijuana is not legal in Iowa and there are very limited exceptions which allow for the prescription of cannabinoid oil.

Even if you have a medical marijuana prescription from another state, it does not mean that your prescription is valid in Iowa. That means even if you purchased a THC-based product in a state that has legalized marijuana, you may face legal consequences if you are caught possessing marijuana in Iowa.

A little bit can be a big deal

The law classifies marijuana as a class 1 controlled substance and possession of it is a serious misdemeanor. A first-time offender could face a maximum term of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, and a minimum 48-hour jail sentence plus other possible penalties. Penalties incrementally increase with each subsequent conviction. Imprisonment doubles to one year for a second offense and two years for a third offense. The Court will often order you to complete a substance abuse evaluation and any recommended treatment even for a first offense.

Marijuana possession can also be expensive. Felony level marijuana offenses (possession with the intent to deliver, tax stamp violations, conspiracy to deliver, and manufacturing marijuana) can carry up to five years in prison and up to $7,500 in fines in addition to the stigma of a felony conviction.

Because state law doesn't determine punishments based on the amount in your possession, any amount could carry legal consequences including jail time, fines, and possibly treatment. Even small amounts can have a significant impact on you, your record, and your future.

Know the risks

Know your rights and understand the law-no matter what state you are in. Despite changing attitudes and social perception, law enforcement in Iowa are still making marijuana-related arrests when they can, especially in the context of traffic stops. That means you must still exercise care and caution when it comes to marijuana possession and usage.

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