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Defenses to Marijuana Possession

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on December 29, 2015 10:00 AM

Just because some states are decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana for medicinal and recreational use doesn't necessarily mean you can legally possess pot. And even in states where some marijuana possession is allowed, there are still rules and regulations that buyers and sellers must follow.

If you've been arrested or charged with marijuana possession, your first thought is necessarily how you will defend yourself. And, lucky for you, you have legal options.

Affirmative Defenses

An affirmative defense generally concedes the underlying facts of a charge, but asserts there was a valid and non-criminal reason for them. For example, an affirmative defense to marijuana possession may be that you had a medical marijuana prescription or that the marijuana laws in your state permit you to possess the amount and type of marijuana in question. You are essentially saying that you did possess marijuana, but you were legally allowed to do so.

Factual Challenges

If you didn't possess the marijuana or if what was seized was not marijuana or your marijuana, you could challenge the facts of the case. This generally entails proving the police got some aspect of the case wrong and you could argue the marijuana belonged to someone else, was never in your possession, or that you didn't know it was in your possession.

Procedural Challenges

Police, prosecutors, and the courts all have to follow specified procedures. Beginning with detaining and searching suspects, to arrest, interrogation, and charging, and throughout a criminal trial, a marijuana charge could be challenged on constitutional grounds. If the police didn't have a valid reason for pulling you over and searching you or your car; if there was a problem with the chain of custody; if officers illegally obtained a confession; or if prosecutors don't share exculpatory evidence -- all of these could be reasons to dismiss marijuana possession charges or overturn your conviction.

Marijuana possession defenses are best asserted by an experienced criminal defense attorney. So if you've been charged with pot possession, contact one as soon as possible.

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