Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana – Other forms

Sentencing guidelines provide Courts in Pennsylvania with the ability to have a standard range of sentences that are imposed for certain similarly situated offenders and crimes.  One of the major aims of these guidelines is to have a level of consistency in sentencing.  Each crime is assigned an offense gravity score which when combined with an offender’s prior record score on a sentencing grid provides the sentencing guidelines (all established by the legislature).

One common drug charge in Pennsylvania is distribution of marijuana.  Possession with Intent to Deliver Marijuana is a crime that is common but has also become more complicated in recent years.  In the past the only substance that was typically being sold or possessed was the actual marijuana / seeds or the plant alone.  Recently, possessing oils and other forms of THC outside of the plant and seeds creates enhanced potential sentencing penalties – and is being seen more often.  In a case where only marijuana is possessed and/or sold the sentencing guidelines may not be as high as they would be in the event that THC oil was possessed and/or sold.  This is because the THC oil is not included in the definition of marijuana in the controlled substance act of Pennsylvania. Therefore, it would be treated as a general schedule I/II controlled substance which has a higher offense gravity score under PA law.

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Despite the recent decriminalization talks throughout the country and the state it is important to remember that marijuana is illegal in Pennsylvania and possessing different forms of it may create complications or higher potential penalties.

 “Marihuana” consists of all forms, species and/or varieties of the genus Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not;  the seeds thereof;  the resin extracted from any part of such plant;  and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin;  but shall not include tetrahydrocannabinols, the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination. (See, Pennsylvania Statutes Title 35 P.S. Health and Safety § 780-102 § 780-102. Definitions

The above listed information does not include the entire crimes code, annotations, amendments or any recent changes to the law that may be relevant. The information provided is for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments or the most complete legal issues for all cases These materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. It is intended solely for informational purposes.

Michael D. DiCindio, Esq. is a West Chester criminal defense lawyer and personal injury attorney who represents individuals accused of crimes or injured by the negligence of others throughout all of Chester County, including West Chester, Phoenixville, Malvern, Coatesville, Paoli, Downingtown, Tredyffrin, West Goshen, Honey Brook, Oxford, Devon, Pottstown, Chesterbrook, Parkesburg, Kennett Square, and Avondale

Drug Paraphernalia..Do they have to prove it was to be used with drugs?

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West Chester Criminal Defense Lawyer Mike DiCindio

Under Pennsylvania law, there is a statute that prohibits possessing anything for:


“The use of, or possession with intent to use, drug paraphernalia for the purpose of planting, propagating, cultivating, growing, harvesting, manufacturing, compounding, converting, producing, processing, preparing, testing, analyzing, packing, repacking, storing, containing, concealing, injecting, ingesting, inhaling or otherwise introducing into the human body a controlled substance in violation of this act.”


It may seem like a statute that encompasses a lot of circumstances and items – and it does. Still, what must be understood is that while many different items may seemingly “fit” under the statutes verbiage – the Commonwealth still has the burden to prove that the alleged drug paraphernalia was exactly that – drug paraphernalia.


How do they do that and what does it really mean? There is case law that states the Commonwealth must prove a specific intent that the item possessed or delivered was to be used with controlled substances.


Now, what does this mean – practically speaking?


The Commonwealth must provide more than the item itself. They must prove that there was the intent to use the item with/for/etc. a controlled substance. Further, a skilled criminal defense attorney should cross-examine the Commonwealth witnesses and potentially point out legal uses for the items claimed to be drug paraphernalia.


While there are many cases where there is other circumstantial or corroborative evidence that the item claimed to be drug paraphernalia was in fact just that – the law must be understood, and a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney will be aware of what the law requires and make sure the Commonwealth is made to meet its burden fully and completely.


Small Amount of Marijuana in Philadelphia

Possessing Small Amount of Marijuana now only a fine in Philadelphia

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New legislation in Philadelphia has gone into effect today minimizing the penalties of being caught with a small amount of marijuana.   The goal behind the legislation is aimed at easing the punishment of offenders of this kind while also lowering the burden police officers and prosecutors have experienced in aggressively enforcing the crimes code when it comes to small amount of marijuana charges.

An offender who is found in possession of a small amount of marijuana will now face a minimal fine and one who is found using marijuana will be subject to a slightly higher, yet still minimal fine.   Once the identification of the individual is ascertained, by showing ID, the interaction between police and an accused is supposed to stop. Still, if no valid ID is found on the person, they can be held until their identity is determined and then must be released.  This new bill does not legalize marijuana, but instead decriminalizes certain levels of possession and use and minimalizes what law enforcement officers may do when faced with those circumstances.

This legislation is bound to raise questions in enforcement, prosecution and defense of cases that either involve a small amount of marijuana and/or cases that begin with marijuana as the inception of the contact between an individual and a police officer.

For one, many cases start with police officers locating a small amount of marijuana and using that as reasonable suspicion or probable cause to further investigate and detain an individual. This new bill may raise many challenges to the search and seizure of individuals in the coming months, causing the Courts in the county to interpret whether officers may still use this/these circumstances as reasonable suspicion or probable cause to further detain and search.

 It is too early to determine the true impact this change will have on the implementation of the laws in Philadelphia County. Still, it is something that criminal defense lawyers and law enforcement must be aware of when prosecuting or defending a case that involves a small amount of marijuana.

Contact Mike DiCindio today to discuss your case today.

***This blog is made available by the law firm publisher for educational purposes and to provide general information, not to provide specific legal advice.  By reading, you understand that there is no attorney client relationship between you and the publisher. The blog should not be used, nor is it meant to be, as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney. This blog also does not discuss all aspects of the topics involved or the bill that has been placed into effect***