A state-by-state breakdown of what happens when you get busted with weed
For nearly 30 years, the War on Drugs has been fought with scales. Signed by President Reagan, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 established mandatory minimum sentences of 5 and 10 years in federal prison without parole for first-time drug offenders, the penalty determined by the type of narcotic and the amount in your possession.
The bill, which is infamous for its racial and socioeconomic bias, was intended to target high-level traffickers but the weights for some drugs, such as crack cocaine, which was predominantly used in low-income communities, were so disproportionately low that it ensared small-time dealers and even users.
The good news for weed heads: You had to possess 100 plants or 100 kilos of marijuana—frankly, a lot of bud—to get five years. Of course, carrying lesser amounts could still get you in trouble.
Since President Obama admitted to inhaling repeatedly, Washington and Colorado legalized recreational marijuana in November 2012, and Arizona, Maine, Massachusetts, California, Nevada, Maryland, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont may follow suit within the next two years, you might think it’s all good to have some weed on you now.
But laws and possession punishments differ from state to state, so before you go prancing around with your goodies, you’d better know what will get you in trouble where.
You don’t want to take a road trip like Cheech and Chong in Up In Smoke and get caught with a gram more than is legal to hold in that state. To help you avoid that fate, Complex created a comprehensive marijuana map to educate you about the possession penalties.
Depending on how much you’re carrying, serious jail time and a hefty fine may lurk over your head. Prison times range from a couple days to 10 years, with fines of up to $350,000. Categories consist of a gram, an eighth (3.5 g), a quarter (7 g), a half (14 g/0.5 oz), and, for those ambitious marijuana connoisseurs, a pound.
All of the punishments are based on a first-time offense and a maximum possible fine. States are grouped according to jail time and fine severity, giving you the ideal route for a marijuana-friendly road trip. Now get out there and see if the grass is indeed greener on the other side.
Depending on the state, a marijuana charge could cost little, or a lifetime.