If you’re wondering about Utah weed laws and what kind of trouble you can run into for possessing marijuana, look no further.
First things first, is weed legal in Utah? Unless you have a condition approved by Utah’s law that allows you to use cannabis as a medical aid, it isn’t.
While it was legalized for medicinal purposes in late 2018, recreational use remains against the law.
Furthermore, marijuana hasn’t been decriminalized, which means that even minor offenses could send you to jail. If you’re caught in possession of marijuana in Utah, you could be charged with a criminal offense.
The penalties you’ll receive depend on the amount you have with you at the time of the arrest. Being caught with large amounts of weed could see you incur significant penalties.
This article will tell you all you need to know about marijuana possession laws. Read on!
Marijuana Possession Laws in Utah
Utah’s Controlled Substances Act lists all the conditions required to charge an individual with marijuana possession, as well as other drug crimes.
There are both federal and state laws that forbid the possession of any amount of marijuana. But that’s not all, as those laws also prohibit having any drug paraphernalia pertaining to marijuana use.
Marijuana possession is an offense which has to do with possessing weed for personal use. This makes it different from possession with intent to distribute, an offense that’s more concerned with growing and distributing marijuana.
Possession of marijuana can sometimes be referred to as “actual possession” or “constructive possession”, according to how the police found the drugs.
“Actual possession” means that you had the weed on you, or in an item you were holding, at the time of the arrest.
“Constructive possession” implies that law enforcement didn’t find the drugs on your person, but that you knew about them and had control over them.
For instance, if the police searched your car and found marijuana in the trunk, you’d still likely be charged with possession, even if you weren’t directly carrying it with you.
Possession of Weed Paraphernalia
It’s illegal to possess any drug paraphernalia in Utah unless it’s designed, marketed, and used solely for legal purposes.
What constitutes paraphernalia exactly? The term encompasses any article meant to help cultivate, harvest, test, process, analyze, store, inhale, ingest, or consume marijuana in general.
Possession of marijuana paraphernalia is a class B misdemeanor. It could get you up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Penalties for First Offense
The penalties you’ll get for being caught with marijuana depend on the amount of marijuana in your possession at the time.
Over a certain quantity, you could be charged with a felony instead of a misdemeanor, even if this is your first time getting arrested for possession.
If you have less than an ounce of cannabis in your possession, then it’s a misdemeanor. In this case, you could be penalized with up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.
If you possess more than an ounce but less than a pound, then you’re also looking at a misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
However, possessing between one and 100 pounds is a felony. In this case, the sentence can go up five years in prison and $5,000.
Being caught with more than 100 pounds means you could be charged with a second-degree felony, with a minimum sentence of one year in jail. The maximum punishment is 15 years in prison with $10,000 in fines.
If you get convicted with a class B misdemeanor for marijuana possession, you may be able to avoid paying a fine if you do compensatory service.
For this, you can volunteer with a charity, local government agencies, or any organization approved by a Utah court. The amount of work you’ll have to do depends on how big your fine is.
Additionally, there are other variables that can aggravate a possession charge. For instance, being arrested in a school zone might increase the punishment, or even add a crime to the charge.
In some cases, such as juveniles and first-time offenders, you may have the option of following a drug rehabilitation program rather than going to jail.
If you’re indicted for marijuana trafficking charges in Utah, you could be facing severe criminal penalties. Trafficking controlled substances and drugs is prohibited by both federal and state laws.
Controlled substances are divided into schedules. Schedules are categories meant to gauge the severity of substances. Marijuana belongs to Schedule I, which has the most dangerous drugs in it.
According to Utah Code §58-37-8, it’s illegal:
- to distribute a controlled or counterfeit substance with intent to distribute;
- to produce, manufacture or dispense, or possess with intent to produce manufacture or dispense, a controlled or counterfeit substance;
- possess a controlled or counterfeit substance with intent to distribute.
Utah law says that if you violate those rules and are found in possession of a substance from Schedule I or II, you’re guilty of a second-degree felony.
A second-degree felony can result in a prison sentence of between one and 15 years, with a fine up to $10,000.
What’s more, if this isn’t your first conviction, you may be charged with a first-degree felony. In that case, you’re facing a minimum of five years in prison and possibly life imprisonment, with a fine of up to $10,000.
How to Defend Yourself
If you have been charged with marijuana possession, your first step should be to research what the law specifically says on your situation.
You should know how much incriminating evidence law enforcement possesses against you. This will allow you to assess whether the case against you is strong or not.
If you have a strong case against you, your best bet might be to negotiate with the prosecutor. However, if there isn’t much evidence, you can fight the charges, and possibly get a better deal down the road.
Don’t Let Utah Weed Laws Get You Down
Now, you know what Utah weed laws say about marijuana possession.
Unless you’re in possession of a significant amount, you’re most likely looking at a misdemeanor. But if you’re charged with trafficking, the penalty could end up being much more severe.