How Much Marijuana Must One Have In Order To Go From A Misdemeanor To A Felony?
Interviewer: How much marijuana must one have in order for them to be charged with a misdemeanor versus a felony?
John Reade: It is a violation – and not a crime – if you possess less than one ounce of marijuana. If it is one ounce of marijuana or more, it becomes a crime. The only potential penalty for a violation is a fine, and sometimes also a license suspension. The potential penalty for a crime is a fine plus jail time, and also a license suspension. It could be a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the quantity of the particular drug. It varies with the kind of drug – whether it is the marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, etc.
Then they also have what are called aggravating factors that can increase the potential penalty. The aggravating factors could be the quantity of the drug, and an indication that the person was selling as opposed to just using the drug for personal use, etc.
Interviewer: When would a drug case become a federal case, just out of curiosity?
John Reade: Usually a case would become a federal case if, for example, the person was growing marijuana on federal land – bureau of land management land – as opposed to their own property that they are either renting or purchasing.
Also, if it is a very large operation, like a marijuana growing operation, then a local or state prosecutor may submit the case to a federal prosecutor as opposed to keeping it at the state level. It usually has to be something pretty significant before it would go from the state level to the federal level. The penalties according to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are significantly more serious than the penalties pursuant to the Oregon Felony Sentencing Guidelines. You want to keep a case out of federal court, if possible.