Federal Marijuana Possession Penalties

marijuana field

When Federal Marijuana Possession Laws Apply

Under Federal law, the marijuana possession penalties are upheld under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) (21 U.S.C. § 811). The CSA does not recognize the difference between medical and recreational use of marijuana.

Under federal law, Marijuana is still considered a Schedule I Substance, which is reserved for drugs that are considered to have both a high likelihood for abuse and no legitimate medical usage. Both these notions seem very outdated, but the law has yet to be changed.

Federal marijuana law is typically reserved for cases where the individual charged was found to possess, cultivate, or distribute weed across multiple state jurisdictions. However, Federal prosecutors can claim jurisdiction if states are not pursuing drug cases, specifically marijuana charges.

Federal Marijuana Possession Penalties

Possession (any amount)



1st offense – misdemeanor

1 year


2nd offense – misdemeanor

15 days MMS*


Subsequent – misdemeanor /felony 90 days MMS*– up to 3 years


*Mandatory Minimum Sentence

When Does Federal Law Apply?