People’s attitudes about marijuana have shifted dramatically in the last two decades. More people than ever before believe that states (or the federal government) should regulate and tax this drug like alcohol. However, just because there is public support doesn’t mean that state policy updates as quickly as personal opinion. Marijuana use, possession and sales are all still illegal in Kentucky.
Law enforcement and courts will still aggressively prosecute those accused of marijuana offenses. While you may think that a possession charge is a minor issue, the police will not agree with you. You could end up in jail for minor marijuana offenses. Before you choose to purchase or use marijuana in Kentucky, you need to know the potential legal consequences and punishments.
How does Kentucky handle possession charges?
Whether you’re accused of possession of natural state marijuana or an extract, like butane hash oil (BHO), possession of fewer than eight ounces carries a misdemeanor charge. The potential penalties for pleading guilty or getting convicted of a possession offense include up to 45 days in jail and a fine of $250.
That may not seem drastic, but it also saddles you with a permanent drug-related criminal conviction, which could keep you from getting financial aid, securing a good job or even renting an apartment.
Worse, you can easily face additional charges for possession of paraphernalia, such as pipes, specialty lighters, scales and other items used for marijuana consumption or storage. The possession of paraphernalia charge is a misdemeanor that could result in up to a year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $500.
Growing your own marijuana could result in felony charges
Growing your own marijuana may seem like a way to avoid risk, but it can actually cause more issues for you. Those accused of growing four or fewer plants as a first offense face a misdemeanor carrying up to a year in jail and a $500 fine. Any subsequent offense with less than five plants is a felony that carries between one and five years of incarceration and a fine of up to $10,000.
Those are the same penalties a first-time defendant faces for five or more plants as well. Someone accused of a second or third offense related to growing more than five plants could end up facing between five and ten years in jail, as well as that $10,000 fine.
Anyone who faces marijuana charges in Kentucky should work to build a strong defense. Simply pleading guilty could help you avoid an embarrassing trial, but it won’t protect you from the penalties involved or a criminal record. This is particularly true for students, who may find themselves unable to get into college or to secure financial aid after a drug offense.