Many states have decided to legalize marijuana for medicinal or adult recreational use. A number of states and quite a few cities have also chosen to decriminalize possession of a small amount of marijuana for personal use. Social attitudes toward marijuana have changed drastically in the last decade, but court and law enforcement approaches to the substance remain locked in a time of prohibition.
For those living in or visiting New Hampshire, there's potential for serious criminal charges related to marijuana. While simple possession has lower penalties in New Hampshire compared with other states, the penalties for possession with intent are still quite severe.
Police don't have to catch you in the act of selling it
Contrary to popular belief, you can't just claim that your marijuana is for personal use and walk away with a ticket all the time. While possession of as much as 3/4 of an ounce is only a civil violation with a fine of $100 for first and second offenses, possession with intent to sell is a felony, regardless of how much marijuana you have.
It takes a lot less than you may think to result in possession with intent charges. For example, simply having a digital scale in your possession along with the marijuana could be enough reason to justify the felony charge in the eyes of the police or the prosecutor for your case. While most marijuana users carry a scale to ensure they receive what they purchase, law enforcement are likely to interpret the presence of a scale as a sign you intend to sell the marijuana. The same is true of having multiple bags of marijuana or containers to place it in.
Penalties for possession with intent can change your life
Penalties increase in the length of sentence and the amount of the fine assessed with the number of previous convictions. Even for first time offenders, the consequences of possession with intent to sell can prove severe.
Those caught in possession of less than an ounce will face felony charges that carry up to three years in jail and a fine of $25,000. For those with at least an ounce but less than a pound, the charges could result in as long as seven years in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. For those with five pounds or more (perhaps in the form of a marijuana grow operation, where the whole, undried weight of the plants could count against you) will face twenty years in jail and a fine of as much as $300,000 for a first offense.
If the offense occurs within 1,000 feet of a school, the penalties involved double. If you or someone you love has to face possession with intent charges, you need to take the charges seriously and consider your options for a defense.