Pennsylvania Marijuana Trafficking Laws

Can You Mail Weed Legally in Pennsylvania

No. Under Pennsylvania laws, possessing any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense unless you have a valid medical marijuana identification card. Under the United States Controlled Substance Act, marijuana remains an illegal substance, and both shipper and recipient may be punished if caught sending or receiving weed by mail. The United States Postal Service (USPS) and other private mail carriers prohibit using their services for sending and receiving weed. 

Federally, mailing up to 50 kg of marijuana carries a 5-year federal prison sentence and a potential 10-year sentence on a second charge. In order for most mail carriers to ship weed, the weed must contain less than 0.3% Delta-9 THC and accompanying records must indicate that the product or substance is legally compliant, including laboratory test results and other applicable compliance reports.

What Are the Penalties for Transporting Edibles Across State Lines in Pennsylvania?

Marijuana edibles are not permitted in Pennsylvania. Although medical marijuana is legalized in the state, edibles are not permitted to be sold at medical marijuana dispensaries under the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act. The state also prohibits licensed growers and processors from making marijuana edibles. Edibles are foods like candies, gummies, cookies, and other baked products infused with cannabis.

Transporting any form of marijuana, including edibles, across state lines is a felony drug trafficking offense which carries a heavy sentence of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for a first-time offense. The state doubles the fines and jail times for subsequent violations.

How to Get a Drug Trafficking Charge Dismissed in Pennsylvania?

If you are charged with drug trafficking, either as a stand-alone charge or in conjunction with another offense, you should consider the following steps:

  • Do Not Speak Without an Attorney: This is an important step that applies almost whenever you are arrested. Considering the harsh penalties associated with a drug trafficking conviction, it is even more important to remain silent until your attorney arrives

  • Understand Your Rights: The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you from unwarranted searches and seizures. The Fourth Amendment requires police or law enforcement to obtain a warrant or probable cause in order to search your house, car, or person unless you consent to the search. If your arrest was based on illegally acquired evidence, a court may dismiss the charges against you

  • Build a Strong Defense: In Pennsylvania, the burden of proof in a drug trafficking case is on the prosecutor. Hence, the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you had an illegal substance in your possession and distributed or planned to distribute it. While the facts in each case may be unique, common defenses to drug traffic charges include:

  • You were a victim of police entrapment

  • The illegal substance did not belong to you

  • You did not have enough of the substance to qualify for a drug trafficking charge

  • You did not distribute or intend to distribute the drug

  • Preserve all Possible Evidence: You will require proof to beat the evidence gathered by law enforcement and prosecutors to convict you. Hence you may want to preserve anything that may be used to support your claims during trial. For instance, if you have text messages on your phone that can prove that you did not intend to sell or distribute the substance in your possession, you may consider making copies of such messages

  • Consider a Pre-trial Diversion: If you are charged with drug trafficking, you may be eligible for pretrial diversion programs offered by drug courts in Pennsylvania. Drug court allows participants to plead guilty to drug crimes and undergo probation or drug treatment instead of facing criminal penalties

  • Hire the Services of an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney: Knowing the facts of beating a drug trafficking charge is not the same as doing it. Typically, getting a drug trafficking charge dismissed will require vast amounts of legal knowledge and experience. Hence, you may be better served seeking legal help from a criminal defense attorney 

Drug Trafficking Facts in Pennsylvania

According to 18 Pa. C.S §7508, drug trafficking refers to the possession of an illegal drug or controlled substance with the intent to deliver the substance to another person. A controlled substance is an illegal substance or a narcotic, such as heroin, marijuana, cocaine, methamphetamine, LSD, and ecstasy. To find an individual guilty of drug trafficking, the prosecutor must prove that the person grew, manufactured, or acquired a controlled substance and then delivered or intended to sell or deliver it to someone else. Even when it is the first offense, drug trafficking is typically charged as a felony. The penalties and severity of punishment vary depending on the type of drug involved and the amount of the drug found in the defendant's possession. Convicted persons face between 7-20 years imprisonment. In cases where defendants plead guilty, the prosecutors may agree to lesser charges.

The agencies monitoring drug trafficking in Pennsylvania are the Drug Strike Force and the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control. Federally, drug trafficking is monitored by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). According to a 2001 Pennsylvania Drug Threat Assessment Report, cocaine and marijuana were the top two commonly smuggled controlled substances into Pennsylvania. In 2022, the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General reported that fentanyl replaced heroin as the dominant opioid in the state. The Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General also reported that its General Bureau of Narcotics Investigation seized more fentanyl in 2021 than in the past four years combined, while heroin seizures declined. 

How Many Grams of Weed Is Considered Trafficking in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania treats the possession of up to 30 grams of weed as a misdemeanor, with the offender subject to a $500 fine and 30 days imprisonment. Beyond that, an offender may be charged with weed trafficking and face more stringent penalties.

What Are the Weed Trafficking Consequences in Pennsylvania?

You may be arrested for trafficking at least two pounds of marijuana. The severity of your punishment will vary based on the amount of weed found in your possession. If you are convicted of trafficking between 2 and 10 pounds of marijuana for the first time, the court may sentence you to a minimum of one year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. If you have a prior conviction, you will be required to spend two years minimum in jail and pay a fine of $10,000.

If you are convicted of trafficking between 10 and 50 pounds of marijuana for the first time, you will be punished with a three-year imprisonment term and required to pay a maximum fine of $15,000. If you have a previous conviction, the jail term will increase to four years, and you will be fined $30,000. If you are convicted of trafficking 50 pounds or more of marijuana, you face up to five years imprisonment and $50,000 in fines pursuant to Section 7508 of Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

Other possible punishments for a conviction for marijuana trafficking are less tangible. A criminal record might hinder your ability to get a good job, obtain specific professional licenses, join the military, or gain admission to graduate school. You may not be eligible for federally subsidized student loans or other forms of federal student help. Obtaining bank accounts and loans may be challenging. For a first violation, your license will be suspended for six months, for a second offense for one year, and for a third offense for two years. If you share custody of your children, a conviction for marijuana trafficking may jeopardize your custodial arrangement and prevent you from seeing your children.

If you operate a marijuana cultivation facility, you may also be charged with weed trafficking. If you are found guilty, the severity of your punishment will depend on how many plants you grew. If you are caught with nine or fewer live marijuana plants, law enforcement may determine the weight of the plants at the scene of your arrest. This includes the marijuana plant's roots but excludes the soil. The following are the typical penalties for weed trafficking due to marijuana cultivation:

 

  • Between 10 and 20 plants: one year in jail and a fine up to $5,000
  • Between 21 and 50 plants: three years in prison and a maximum $15,000 fine
  • More than 50 plants: five years in jail and a $50,000 fine

How to Transport Weed Legally in Pennsylvania

If you are a medical marijuana patient or an approved designated caregiver, you may transport medical marijuana from a dispensary to your home or treatment facility as long as it is in its original package and all patient and product labels are affixed. To deliver medicinal cannabis to you (a medical marijuana patient), your caregivers must be licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, enrolled in the caregiver registry, and linked to your patient profile. As with alcohol, you must ensure that the cannabis product is out of the driver's reach and securely sealed.

Businesses or entities may legally transport medical weed in Pennsylvania by obtaining the medical grower/processor license or the dispensary license. The grower/processor license permits the licensee to transport medical weed to dispensaries, while dispensary licensees may transport medical weed to other medical marijuana organizations in the state. 

Vehicles used in the transportation of medical marijuana in the state must:

  • Be equipped with secure lock boxes or locking cargo areas
  • Have no markings that can either identify or indicate that the vehicles are being used to transport medical marijuana products
  • Have features that allow them to be temperature-controlled for perishable medical marijuana products
  • Display valid state inspection stickers and maintain current state vehicle registrations
  • Be insured in an amount deemed to be commercially appropriate and reasonable 

Further regulations on the transportation of weed for growers/processors and dispensaries are contained in Sections 1151.35 and 1161.35 of the Pennsylvania Code.