Minnesota legislature to consider legalizing medical marijuana

Across the country, states have taken action to legalize marijuana for medical use - and even, in two states, recreational purposes. Thus far, Minnesota has yet to legalize marijuana for either medical or recreational use.

The legalization of medical marijuana in Minnesota is on the table again, however, as lawmakers considered a bill that would allow some patients to use the drug for medical reasons. The Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing in the Minnesota Senate heard arguments regarding the legalization of medical marijuana before the beginning of the spring break at the Capitol.

The debate will resume when the senators return from break. The bill would allow patients with doctor certification to possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of marijuana for medical use. The patients would be allowed to obtain the marijuana from dispensaries licensed by the state.

In the state House, a representative intended to attach an amendment legalizing medical marijuana to a health bill, but was unable to do so before the spring break. Unlike the legislation being considered in the Senate, the amendment in the House would not allow patients to smoke marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Medical marijuana has wide support among Minnesotans, according to a survey conducted by KSTP-TV. The poll asked 600 people in Minnesota whether they believed marijuana should be legal in the state for medicinal use. Of those questioned, 68 percent responded that they believed medical marijuana should be legalized in Minnesota.

Take action against charges of marijuana possession in Minnesota

As marijuana has yet to be legalized for any purpose in Minnesota, the penalties for possession of the drug can be quite serious. In Minnesota, the severity of the penalties depends on the amount of the substance found in the individual's possession.

For instance, those found with 42.5 grams or less of marijuana may only face petty misdemeanor charges and a maximum fine of $300. Misdemeanor charges can result, however, when more than 1.4 grams of marijuana are found inside the passenger compartment of one's motor vehicle. In such cases, a conviction can result in 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

If an individual is found with between 42.5 grams and 10 kilograms of marijuana, however, he or she could face felony charges. In such cases, a conviction could lead to up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

The most severe penalties are reserved for those found in possession of over 100 kilograms of marijuana. Following such a conviction, an individual can face up to 30 years in jail and a fine of up to $1 million.

If you or a loved one has been charged with marijuana possession in Minnesota, take steps to protect yourself from the potentially serious consequences. A wise first step is seeking the advice of a skilled criminal defense attorney to ensure a strong defense is mounted on your behalf.