Over the last decade or so, there has been a movement across the country to re-legalize marijuana in many states. In most states the focus has been on legalizing marijuana for medicinal use; however, several states have also legalized the recreational use of marijuana and/or decriminalized the possession of relatively small amounts of marijuana. Unfortunately, the State of Nebraska is not one of these states. If you were recently arrested for a marijuana related criminal offense, you may be wondering if you need a marijuana defense attorney? Although only you can ultimately make that decision, it would be in your best interest to hire an attorney as soon as possible.
Federal vs. State – the Battle for Legalized Marijuana
Although Nebraska has yet to pass a medical or recreational marijuana law, it is still a good idea to understand where the state vs. federal marijuana laws stand. At the federal level, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I controlled substance for a very long time. That means marijuana is considered to be as dangerous as drugs such as LSD and heroin. The possession, sale, cultivation, or transport of marijuana also remains illegal under U.S. federal law. This creates a direct conflict in every state that has legalized marijuana for any reason. In Nebraska, however, it remains illegal at both the state and the federal level to possess, sale, cultivate, or transport marijuana.
Marijuana Offenses in Nebraska
Although Nebraska has not enacted any laws that legalize marijuana, it is treated differently in Nebraska than other Schedule I controlled substances. Most criminal offenses relating to marijuana are found in Nebraska Revised Statutes, Section 28-416 which reads, in pertinent part, as follows:
(11) Any person knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana weighing more than one ounce but not more than one pound shall be guilty of a Class III misdemeanor.
(12) Any person knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana weighing more than one pound shall be guilty of a Class IV felony.
(13) Any person knowingly or intentionally possessing marijuana weighing one ounce or less or any substance containing a quantifiable amount of the substances, chemicals, or compounds described, defined, or delineated in subdivision (c)(25) of Schedule I of section 28-405 shall:
(a) For the first offense, be guilty of an infraction, receive a citation, be fined three hundred dollars, and be assigned to attend a course as prescribed in section 29-433 if the judge determines that attending such course is in the best interest of the individual defendant;
(b) For the second offense, be guilty of a Class IV misdemeanor, receive a citation, and be fined four hundred dollars and may be imprisoned not to exceed five days; and
(c) For the third and all subsequent offenses, be guilty of a Class IIIA misdemeanor, receive a citation, be fined five hundred dollars, and be imprisoned not to exceed seven day.
Do You Need a Marijuana Defense Attorney?
Until the day comes that the State of Nebraska decides to enact a law that changes any of the above statutes, marijuana remains illegal in Nebraska. If you have been charged with one of the offenses related to marijuana, it is in your best interest to try and avoid a conviction. Future employers, schools, and landlords will not bother to look into a conviction. They will simply see that you were convicted of possession/sale/cultivation/transport of a controlled substance. An experienced marijuana defense attorney may be able to find a viable defense in your case after reviewing the police report and analyzing the evidence against you. You owe it to yourself and to you future to find out if there is a chance you can avoid a conviction that could threaten that future.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense in the State of Nebraska it is certainly in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away to discuss what defenses might be available to you. In Nebraska contact Petersen Criminal Defense Law 24 hours a day at 402-509-8070.