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NORML’s State Guide to Marijuana Penalties 



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    NORML’s State Guide to Marijuana Penalties outlines most penalties for prohibited marijuana conduct in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and under federal law. To view a complete list of prohibited conduct and marijuana penalties, see your state and federal laws and discuss the laws with a criminal defense lawyer.

    Marijuana laws and penalties change rapidly and are enforced and interpreted differently even in the same legal jurisdiction. Please consult a criminal defense lawyer if you have been busted or if you want to know how particular conduct might be punished. If you spot an error or have information that should be included in the NORML Foundation’s State Guide to Marijuana Penalties, please inform the NORML Foundation (foundation@norml.org). Many thanks to the attorneys who helped write NORML’s State Guide to Marijuana Penalties.

Please note:

  • The guide does not list penalties for every marijuana offense nor every enhanced sentence such as possessing marijuana near a school, involving a minor, and automatic driver’s license suspension. Your state may require an enhanced sentence even if the enhancement is not in the list.


  • Unless otherwise specified, please assume that listed penalties apply only to first convictions. Prior convictions often place a defendant in a higher penalty range.


  • Except where indicated otherwise, a listed fine is the maximum fine for the conviction and the minimum fine is zero.


  • "Possession" usually means "possessing marijuana only for personal use." If the government accuses you of possessing marijuana for other reasons, the accompanying penalties will probably exceed those for possessing marijuana for personal use. Possessing large amounts of marijuana frequently results in charges of "possession with intent to distribute," "trafficking," and "sale."


  • Many factors contribute to a defendant’s sentence. Factors include level of involvement in the prohibited conduct, location, age, presence or absence of minors, use of communications devices like telephones, conduct for which a person has been acquitted, and many other things.


  • If you are in trouble, please know your rights and hire an attorney.

  • Warning: The information contained in this report is for informational purposes only; individuals are encouraged to confirm their state’s laws before engaging in any particular behavior.



C Conditional release. The state allows conditional release or alternative or diversion sentencing for people facing their first prosecutions. Usually, conditional release lets a person opt for probation rather than trial. After successfully completing probation, the individual’s criminal record does not reflect the charge.

D Decriminalization. The state has decriminalized marijuana to some degree. Typically, decriminalization means no prison time or criminal record for first-time possession of a small amount for personal consumption. The conduct is treated like a minor traffic violation.

MMS Mandatory minimum sentence. When someone is convicted of an offense punishable by a mandatory minimum sentence, the judge must sentence the defendant to the mandatory minimum sentence or to a higher sentence. The judge has no power to sentence the defendant to less time than the mandatory minimum. A prisoner serving an MMS for a federal offense and for most state offenses will not be eligible for parole. Even peaceful marijuana smokers sentenced to "life MMS" must serve a life sentence with no chance of parole.
</= Less than or equal to.
>/= Greater than or equal to.

Metric units to United States units of measurements:

One ounce (oz.) = 28.35 grams
One pound (lb.) = 16 ounces = 453.59 grams
One kilogram (kg.) = 1,000 grams = 2.2 pounds (lbs.)