On a national level, marijuana laws are confusing. Almost a dozen states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. A majority of states have enacted legislation that allows marijuana to be used as a treatment for certain medical conditions. Some communities have effectively decriminalized marijuana by making it a low law enforcement priority. At the federal level, however, the possession and distribution of marijuana continues to be illegal.
Iowa law prohibits the possession of marijuana for recreational use. Iowa’s medical marijuana law allows patients with certain health conditions to possess cannabis oil with no more than a 3% concentration of THC (the active ingredient in marijuana). Most health conditions that benefit from marijuana are not covered by the law, and the 3% concentration is too small to provide effective relief for many patients. Patients who turn to illegal marijuana for its health benefits are too often arrested.
Marijuana Offenses in Iowa
In Iowa, possession of marijuana for personal use is a crime. A first offense can result in a sentence of up to 6 months in jail. The maximum sentence increases to 1 year for a second offense and 2 years for a third offense. Stiff fines can also be part of the penalty.
Possession of a significant quantity of marijuana can be charged as possession with intent to deliver. There is no fixed quantity that triggers a “possession with intent” charge. If a prosecutor decides that the accused has more marijuana than he or she is likely to smoke, the prosecutor can charge the crime as possession with intent. A conviction of possession with intent carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison, although longer penalties apply to the possession of more than 5 kilograms.
What to Do If You Are Caught with Marijuana in Iowa
Everyone who watches television knows that they have the right to remain silent if they are questioned by a police officer. Too few people exercise that right. Whether or not the officer warns you of that right, your response to any officer who wants to question you about marijuana should be, “I need to have a lawyer present before I answer any questions.” People who give that response have a much better chance of avoiding a conviction than people who speak to the police before speaking to a lawyer.
If the police stop you while you are walking or driving, they may ask you if they can search your car or your pockets. You should never consent to a search. If they want to search your home, ask for a warrant. If they don’t have one, don’t let them in. You should not fight the police, but you gain nothing by agreeing to a search.
Exercising those constitutional rights may help you avoid an arrest. If you are arrested, contact a Cedar Rapids marijuana defense lawyer immediately. There are often defenses to marijuana charges that will avoid a conviction. The prosecution might not be able to prove that you had control of marijuana. There might be no evidence that you were aware that marijuana was present. The evidence of an intent to distribute might be weak. Your lawyer can evaluate all the evidence and advise you about the best approach to defending against an Iowa marijuana crime.
If you need legal advice, contact the Law Office of Raphael M. Scheetz. ⠀
Located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, we are here to help you through any complicated legal matter.