Medical marijuana: 10 years for Cheeba Chews in Japan? Western states aren't much kinder
Yesterday, 9News broke the story of Colorado School of Mines student Tim Wilson.
The 25-year-old is facing up to ten years in prison in Japan because a friend back here in Colorado sent him a care package containing some pot cookies and Cheeba Chews.
Wilson, who is studying abroad, has denied knowing that his friend was going to send him him the cookies, but Japanese officials point to an e-mail Wilson sent to the unnamed Mines student saying it "would be a good idea" to send marijuana overseas. I can imagine Wilson would want to add some fun to his otherwise dreary life studying and helping the country with earthquake relief efforts.
Despite never receiving the package or having it in his possession, he was arrested and has been in Japanese custody since August. According to Wilson's father, the trial has been delayed three times already and the earliest estimate on a start time is now for sometime January.
Since the 9News story ran, Cheeba Chews posted a link to it on their facebook page with the note: "We in no way advocate shipping Chews out of state, but no one should face 10 years for 4 Chews."
I agree. But while ten years sounds like something that only a foreign country would impose for possession (if you can call it that), the reality is that Colorado is pretty much an island of cannabis tolerance in the otherwise pot-unfriendly Rocky Mountain West. Several of the states around us have punishments as bad, if not worse than what Wilson is facing in Japan.
Below, check out the penalties you could face for possession and distribution in Colorado and in our neighboring states according to the folks at NORML:
Colorado: • Possession of two ounces or less of marijuana is a petty offense. The offender receives a summons to appear in court, and upon a promise to appear in court, the offender is to be released from detention. The maximum penalty for a violation is $100. Failure to appear at the specified time and location results in the increase of the charges to a misdemeanor. • Possession of greater than two ounces is a misdemeanor, punishable by 6-18 months in jail and a fine of $500 - $5,000, plus a $600 surcharge. • Any other transfer, sale, manufacture or cultivation is a felony, punishable by 2 - 4 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 - $500,000 and a $1,500 surcharge.
Kansas: • Possession of any amount of marijuana for personal use is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. For a second conviction the penalty increases to 10 - 42 months in jail and a fine of up to $100,000. • Possession with intent to sell or actual sale is punishable by 14 -51 months in jail and a fine of up to $300,000.
Oklahoma: • Possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail for the first offense and 2 - 10 years in prison for subsequent offenses. Conditional discharge is available to first time offenders • Sale or delivery of less than 25 pounds is punishable by 2 years - life in prison and a fine of $20,000.
New Mexico: • 1 oz or less (first offense) is a misdemeanor, 15 days in jail with a fine of $50 - $100 • 1 oz or less (subsequent offense)is a misdemeanor, 1 year in jail and a fine of $100 - $1,000 • For a first offense, manufacture or distribution of 100 pounds or less of marijuana is punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine up to $5,000
Arizona: • The possession of marijuana is a criminal offense. For possession of an amount less than two pounds the sentence can range from 6 mos. - 1.5 years and a fine of $750 - $150,000. - Possession of two or more pounds but less than four pounds is punishable by 9 mos. - 2 years in jail and a fine of $750 - $150,000. Possession of four pounds or more is punishable by 1.5 - 3 years in prison and a fine of $750 - $150,000. • Sale or delivery for sale of less than two pounds of marijuana is punishable by 2.5 • 7 years in prison and a fine of $750 - $150,000.
*Note: Arizona's medical marijuana laws allow for reciprocation. Meaning, possession is legal in Arizona for Colorado medical marijuana patients.
Utah: • Any conviction results in 6 month drivers license suspension. • Possession of less than one ounce of marijuana is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine up to $1,000. For possession of one ounce or more the penalty increases to up to one year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. Amounts of one pound or more carry a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. Possession of greater than 100 pounds is punishable by 1 - 15 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. • The penalty for sale or delivery of marijuana is up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. • Also interesting to note: Paraphernalia possession is considered misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine on first offense.
Wyoming: • Using or being under the influence of marijuana is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $100. • Possession of three ounces or less of marijuana is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine up to $1,000. Possession of greater than three ounces carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. First offenders may be placed on conditional probation and may have the proceedings discharged. • Sale or delivery of marijuana is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000.
Nebraska: • 1 oz or less (first offense) is a civil citation with no jail time and up to a $300 fine. • 1 oz or less (second offense)is a misdemeanor with up to 5 days in jail and up to a $400 fine. • The penalty for distribution of marijuana is up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000.
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