Marijuana Attorney in Madison (Possession, Intent to Distribute, and more severe charges)
Whatever You Call the Stuff, it’s Illegal in Wisconsin
Despite growing efforts to legalize marijuana throughout the country, recreational use of marijuana is still illegal in Wisconsin. As criminal defense attorneys, we don’t judge, we’re here to give you the defense you deserve.
Any charge for a controlled substance in Wisconsin is serious enough to get legal help. If you're facing a marijuana charge, turn to Grieve Law. Our attorneys have extensive experience defending against all types of drug possession charges.
Legal vs Decriminalized Marijuana in Madison
As of 2015, roughly half of those incarcerated in federal prisons are there because of illegal drugs. Marijuana comprises over a quarter of those offenses. While movies and pop-culture are getting more casual about its use, marijuana is not legal, it’s only decriminalized in the city of Madison and some surrounding municipalities in Dane County. However, it is still criminal under Wisconsin and federal law.
How does that work?
It all comes down to which police municipality you are dealing with and what laws they follow. According to the City of Madison Municipal Ordinance 23.20, it is legal to casually possess specified amounts of cannabis or marijuana in private.
There are parameters, however, that must be followed:
- Maximum of 112 grams of cannabis is allowed in a private area
- You may not possess or ingest cannabis in any amount in a public place unless you have a valid prescription in Madison. Violating this will result in a ticket and fine of $109
Don’t forget that under state and federal law, marijuana is still illegal. Even though some municipalities may decriminalize it, it will not stop you from being charged elsewhere in Wisconsin. It is best to operate under the assumption that if you get busted with pot, you will be convicted of a crime, no matter where in Wisconsin you are.
Decriminalization across Police Jurisdiction
Different police departments can be subject to different laws, but not always. If you are in Madison and the City of Madison police come to your home and you have an amount of marijuana or THC that follows the ordinance, they will not cite you. Possession of drug paraphernalia, however, is still illegal, so you can get cited for having a pipe or rolling paper. If you have more than the legal amount, they can also charge you for that. Additionally, any public use of marijuana will be cited as well.
There are many other police departments in Madison, though. For example, the Dane County Sheriff’s Department or State Patrol are police municipalities that patrol Madison, as well, and they may not honor the decriminalization of marijuana like the Madison City Police. There are also campus police, and the laws they enforce may be different. Dorms, for example, may not permit marijuana even if it is a personal amount in a private location.
A Possession Misdemeanor or a Felony with Intent to Distribute: The Law is Still the Law
The fact that movies, pop-culture and recreational smokers are getting more casual about using marijuana cannot be denied, but there are still severe penalties for marijuana possession in Wisconsin and district attorneys are pressured to make high conviction rates.
Cannabis Possession, Cultivation and Intent Penalties in Wisconsin
Whether you get busted for cannabis possession in Dane County or anywhere else in Wisconsin, you are facing severe penalties that will affect your life in much the same way as a DUI. This is why the first thing you should do after your arrest is call a competent law firm that knows how to get your charges reduced. Did you know your first charge is a misdemeanor? Grieve Law does, and we're here to help.
Penalties for cannabis possession vary depending on how many times you’ve been caught with the drug, and your past criminal convictions.
|Any amount (first offense)||Misdemeanor||6 months||$1,000|
|Any amount (subsequent offense)||Felony||3.5 years||$10,000|
If you are caught in possession of cannabis and the police have determined that your intention was to sell it or distribute it, then you are looking at much steeper penalties than just possession.
Based on the amount of illicit drugs you are caught with at the time of your arrest the police will ticket you for possession with intent. Our Madison cannabis law attorneys can help you get your intent charges reduced or dropped, but it’s important to call us as soon as possible so we can start building a case for your defense.
Penalties for intent to distribute are based on the amount of marijuana you were caught in possession of.
|Sale or Delivery|
|200 grams of THC or Less (7 lbs)||Class I Felony||3.5 years||$10,000|
|200-1000 grams of THC (35 lbs)||Class H Felony||6 years||$10,000|
|1000-2500 grams of THC (90 lbs)||Class G Felony||10 years||$25,000|
|2500-10000 grams of THC (357 lbs)||Class F Felony||12.5 years||$25,000|
|More than 10000 grams of THC||Class E Felony||15 years||$50,000|
|Includes possession with intent to distribute|
|Subsequent offense is subject to additional penalties|
It is also illegal in Wisconsin to cultivate or grow cannabis in your home or on your property, and the penalties for doing so are the most severe. Penalties for cultivation may be added to possession or intent charges, which is why you should call Grieve Law ASAP.
|4 plants or fewer||Felony||3.5 years||$10,000|
|4-20 plants||Felony||6 years||$10,000|
|20-50 plants||Felony||10 years||$25,000|
|50-200 plants||Felony||12.5 years||$25,000|
|More than 200 plants||Felony||15 years||$50,000|
|Subsequent offense is subject to additional penalties|
Many times these charges will be added with others like maintaining a drug trafficking place, which come with their own set of penalties. Even worse your license may be suspended for at least 6 months, and potentially as long as 5 years.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
In Wisconsin, it is illegal to be in possession of drug paraphernalia. Any device used to contain, smoke, or ingest marijuana is considered paraphernalia, and it can include a soda can or apple adapted for use as a pipe.
Examples of drug paraphernalia related to THC include:
- Rolling papers
- Plastic Baggies
- Bongs or Pipes
- Modified cans or bottles
Paraphernalia also comes with its own set of penalties. Although getting caught with drug paraphernalia is a misdemeanor in Wisconsin, you’re still looking at steep fines including:
|Use or possession with intent to use paraphernalia||Misdemeanor||30 days||$500|
|Sale or distribution of paraphernalia||Misdemeanor||90 days||$1,000|
|Selling to a minor||Misdemeanor||9 months||$10,000|
Get Charges Reduced for Keeping a Drug House in Madison
Maintaining a drug house in Madison is a misdemeanor, though often Possession and Intent to Distribute charges are added so the penalties are more severe. Our drug possession attorneys at Grieve Law fight to get your penalties reduced or dropped for all drug charges.
There are two misdemeanor charges for keeping a drug house in Madison. One refers to a place for using drugs, while the other refers to a place used for manufacturing, storing, or delivering the controlled substances. The charges are relatively the same and involve the following:
- The person kept or maintained a building or place for using drugs
- People used controlled substances in the place
- OR the place was used to manufacture, hold, or deliver drugs
- The defendant knew the place was being used in that way.
The maximum penalty for either drug house charge is one year in jail and a fine of $25,000.
Although jail time for these charges is only a year (compared to a 40-year sentence for heroin possession), they are frequently combined with other charges, such as possession and intent to distribute.
Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
The I in OWI stands for Operating while Intoxicated, and it refers to more than just alcohol. Driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs (even legal prescription drugs) can get you in trouble. The good news is Grieve Law has experience with all kinds of OWI charges. If you’ve been caught driving while drunk or driving while stoned, our defense attorneys will meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your case.
How Weed OWIs and Alcohol OWIs are Similar
Possession of THC is illegal in the state of Wisconsin, which is why marijuana/weed OWIs are prosecuted differently than alcohol OWIs. Marijuana OWIs usually mirror their alcohol counterparts closely in the pre-arrest phase. Typically there is a traffic stop, during which the officer has to find articulable facts leading him to believe the driver may be on drugs.
When identifying marijuana intoxication, officers usually spot:
- Dialated pupils
- Lack of coordination
- Green tongue
Sometimes officers perform the same three standard field sobriety tests in marijuana cases as in alcohol cases:
- Horizontal gaze nystagmus test
- Walk and turn test
- One leg stand test
Sometimes officers will administer specific drug recognition tests, like finger to nose test.
Even when suspecting a marijuana related OWI, officers often still ask the driver to perform a preliminary breath test. If the test returns a result below .08g/100mL but the driver is still presenting significant clues of intoxication, this supports the officer’s belief the driver has ingested marijuana. This is when an arrest is made.
Fines for Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana
Fines and penalties for impaired driving from marijuana are strict and get even more strict if you've had previous convictions, if a minor was in the vehicle, or if the vehicle was in a construction zone.
- $300 in fines
- Up to $1,100 in fines
- Max 6 months in prison
- 18 months suspended license
Third and Fourth Offenses
- Up to $2,000 in fines
- Max 1 year in prison
- 3 years suspended license
Fifth and Sixth Offenses
- Class H Felony
- Up to $10,000 in fines
- 6 years in prison
You Can Still Beat a Marijuana OWI
Conviction on a marijuana OWI charge is not a foregone conclusion. We can challenge the traffic stop, the administration of field sobriety tests, officer credibility, and the arrest. The goal with marijuana OWIs is to use pretrial motions to exclude any unfavorable lab results. A skilled and experienced attorney will have the background necessary to make these challenges. And with any luck, successful lobbying may convince Wisconsin legislators to change the law in order to make marijuana OWIs more difficult to prosecute, especially when it can be shown that the driver’s THC levels were below an amount qualified professionals have deemed to be indicative of intoxication.
Madison Law Firm Offers Free Case Assessments for Marijuana Charges
Without retaining a criminal defense attorney, one small marijuana case in Madison could put a permanent damper on you or a family member’s life forever. Your case is unique and you or a loved one could have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Grieve Law’s OWI defense lawyers have years of experience getting criminal charges reduced and dropped. Whether you’re charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other substances, schedule a free consultation with our skilled attorneys to find out your options.