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Marijuana Attorney in Madison (Possession, Intent to Distribute, and more severe charges)

Whatever You Call the Stuff, it’s Illegal in Wisconsin Marijuana Attorney in Madison

It’s hard to ignore the dramatic increase in Wisconsin-drug related crimes over the past several decades despite growing efforts to legalize marijuana throughout the country. As criminal defense attorneys, we don’t judge, we’re here to give you the defense you deserve.

We’ve got experienced attorneys in our Madison office who are committed to taking on your possession of marijuana case through strategic planning.

Any charge for any type of controlled substance in Wisconsin is serious. Turn to our marijuana defense lawyers when you’re in a tough spot.

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 is getting more casual about its use; marijuana is not legal, it’s decriminalized in Madison.

The city of Madison and some surrounding municipalities in Dane County have decriminalized cannabis. 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 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 in that instance. Additionally, any public use of marijuana will be cited as well.

There are many other police departments that are in Madison, though. For example, the Dane County Sheriff’s Department or State Patrol are police municipalities that patrol Madison as well, but they may not honor the decriminalization of marijuana like the Madison City Police. There are also campus police, and the laws they use may be different as well. Dorms, for example, may not permit marijuana even if it is a personal amount in a private location.

You are only guilty if you are convicted™

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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.

What should be denied is the severe penalties for marijuana possession still in Wisconsin. The prison system might be overcrowded, yet district attorneys are pressured to make high conviction rates.

Regardless of groups like Wisconsin NORML fighting to reform marijuana laws in the state, their efforts have not had a large impact on Wisconsin drug laws.

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 and could affect your life in much the same way as getting a DUI. That is why the first thing you should do after your arrest is to call a competent law firm that knows how to get your charges reduced.

Did you know your first charge is a misdemeanor? The folks at Grieve Law do, and they’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.




Max. Fine

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 is or was to sell it or distribute it; then you are looking at much steeper penalties, then just possession.

Oftentimes 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. The Madison cannabis law attorneys can help you get your intent charges reduced or dropped; which is why it’s important to call us first so we can start building a case to aid you in your defense.

Penalties for intent to distribute are based on the amount of marijuana you were caught in possession of.




Max. Fine

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

Likewise, it is also illegal in Wisconsin to cultivate or grow cannabis in your home or on your property; and it has the most severe penalties. Penalties for cultivation may come on top of possession or intent charges; that is why you should call us first and we’ll work with you to get your charges reduced.




Max. Fine

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 to add penalties these charges will be added with others like maintaining a drug trafficking place which come with its 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

Finally, in Wisconsin it is also illegal to be in possession of drug paraphernalia; which is any device used to contain, smoke, or ingest marijuana.

Examples of drug paraphernalia related to THC include:

  • Rolling papers
  • Plastic Baggies
  • Bongs or Pipes
  • Grinders
  • 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:




Max. Fine

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 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

Posession of THC is illegal in the state of Wisconsin, which is why marijuana/weed OWIs are prosecuted differently than alcohol OWIs. We have written at length about alcohol OWIs – Challenging sobriety tests, officer creditability, even the reliability of lab reports showing blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of over .08g/100ml.

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 vary depending on your number of offenses, if a minor was in the vehicle, or if the vehicle was in a construction zone.

First Offense

  • $300 in fines

Second Offense

  • 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

All this is not to say these cases are ironclad. We can still challenge the traffic stop, the administration of field sobriety tests, officer credibility, and the arrest. The goal with marijuana OWIs is to use the 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 are below an amount experts 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 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.

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