Federal Marijuana Laws: An Overview

Throughout the U.S., there are a large assortment of cannabis laws at the state level. But what are the federal marijuana laws?

Below is a chart of federal marijuana laws provided by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML):


OffensePenaltyIncarceration  Max. Fine


Any amount (first offense)misdemeanor1 year$ 1,000
Second offense (any amount)misdemeanor15 days* – 2 years$ 2,500
Subsequent offensesmisdemeanor or felony90 days* – 3 years$ 5,000
* Mandatory minimum sentence


Less than 50 kgfelony5 years$ 250,000
50 – 99 kgfelony20 years$ 1,000,000
100 – 999 kgfelony5 – 40 years$ 500,000
1000 kg or morefelony10 years – life$ 1,000,000
To a minor or within 1000 ft of a school, or other specified areas carries a double penalty.
Gift of small amount — see Possession


Less than 50 plantsfelony5 years$ 250,000
50 – 99 plantsfelony20 years$ 1,000,000
100 – 999 plantsfelony5 – 40 years$ 500,000
1000 plants or morefelony10 years – life$ 1,000,000


Sale of paraphernaliafelony3 yearsN/A


Progress on Federal Marijuana Laws

Last month Congress voted to extend protections that prevent the Justice Department from interfering with state-level medical cannabis laws; the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment was included as part of a larger budget bill. However, the extension only goes until April. It’s anyone’s guess if it will be extended again at that point, when Trump will be in office.

Last week a group of U.S. senators – including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren – sent a letter to government officials urging them to allow cannabis banking.

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