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Marijuana possession in Arkansas can land you in jail

On Behalf of | Apr 12, 2024 | Drug Crimes

Across the United States, marijuana laws are undergoing a significant shift. With increasing public support for legalization and medical use, many states have decriminalized possession or legalized it altogether.

However, Arkansas remains an outlier. Despite the national trend, marijuana possession and distribution/trafficking are still considered serious crimes in the state.

Possession: Small amounts, big trouble

Arkansas categorizes marijuana as a Schedule VI controlled substance, the least severe category. However, possession comes with varying degrees of punishment depending on the quantity. Possession of less than two ounces (56.7 grams) is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. While seemingly lenient, a criminal record can have long-lasting repercussions, affecting employment opportunities and housing options.

Things escalate significantly with larger quantities. Possession of four ounces (113.4 grams) or more but less than 25 pounds becomes a Class C felony, carrying a potential sentence of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The penalties become even harsher for possession exceeding 25 pounds, progressing to Class B and A felonies with escalating prison terms and fines.

Here’s where it gets even more complicated: State law presumes intent to distribute if you’re caught with 500 pounds (226.8 kg) or more of marijuana. This presumption makes it difficult to avoid a trafficking charge.

Distribution/trafficking: A felonious offense

Distribution, often referred to as selling or giving away marijuana, is treated much more severely than possession. Delivering any amount greater than 14 grams (half an ounce) is considered a felony. The severity of the felony classification increases with the quantity involved, mirroring the possession penalties.

Trafficking, on the other hand, refers to large-scale distribution with the intent to supply a market. Possession of 500 pounds or more of marijuana automatically qualifies as trafficking, a Class Y felony. This carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, with a potential maximum of 40 years and a hefty fine.

It’s important to note that additional penalties apply if marijuana is distributed to a minor. Depending on the circumstances, sentences can be doubled or have ten extra years added.

Despite the national trend towards marijuana legalization, Arkansas maintains strict regulations limiting lawful access to this drug. Understanding these laws is essential for residents who need to navigate this complex legal landscape successfully. That said, individuals facing marijuana possession or distribution charges in Arkansas can benefit from consulting a qualified legal team, as mistakes and misunderstandings happen every day.