Interviewer: What are the differences between possession charges versus intent to sell charges?
Possession Charges Carry Less Severe Penalties Than Do Intent to Sell Charges
Brian Geno: Possession typically is where a person would have a drug and because of the quantity or because of how they were caught using it, it appears that they were just using it for themselves. The penalties for that are much less severe than if it looks like they were trying to use it to sell.
When the charge is either “distribution” or “possession with intent to sell”, one way to be charged is to be caught when you are selling. That would be “distribution”. For instance, if you’re caught in the act of selling or you sell to a police officer or something like that, that’s just straight out distribution. But possession with intent to distribute is where they infer that you’re planning on selling it because of the quantity you have or how you were acting with it.
Intent to Distribute Charges Are Based on the Quantity of the Drug the Individual Possesses
For example, if a person is caught with enough oxycodone to treat themselves for six to nine months, it can be inferred they possess a larger quantity than they would need. Law enforcement is going to say that that person is possessing with the intent to distribute because they couldn’t possibly need that much oxycodone.
The same thing would apply with cocaine or heroin or LSD, if it appears that it’s more than you could possibly use for yourself. That would be possession with intent to distribute. The distribution and the possession with intent to distribute are both much more serious in terms of the sentencing. Those two might be sentenced the same, but they’re definitely not sentenced the same as plain old possession.
The Quantity of a Drug Is Also a Factor in Whether an Individual Faces a Misdemeanor or Felony Charge
Interviewer: How much marijuana for instance, must one have in order for them to get a misdemeanor versus like a felony?
Brian Geno: A misdemeanor possession of marijuana charge includes up to half an ounce. A half an ounce is a little over 14 grams.
I couldn’t tell you how much in volume 14 grams of dry marijuana looks like but it would probably fill the palm of your hand. That would be about a half an ounce, but if the weight goes over 14.15 grams, then you’re looking at a felony.
Possession with the Intent to Distribute Marijuana Is a Felony Charge
If you possess a small amount, like less and half an ounce but you are caught in the act of selling it—that is a misdemeanor distribution charge. If over ½ ounce, possession with the intent to distribute marijuana is a felony.