Despite a growing number of states that have legalized or decriminalized the use of small amounts of cannabis, 40% of all drug arrests in the United States are for possession of marijuana, according to the FBI.

Eleven states have legalized the use of recreational pot, and 33 others, including Pennsylvania, allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. However, weed remains an illegal substance for everyone else in the Keystone State.

FBI data details drug arrests in the U.S.

According to the FBI, officers around the country made 1.65 million drug arrests in 2018, and 663,000 of them were related to marijuana, and an overwhelming 92% were for possession. The agency lists the breakdown of total arrests:

  • 40%: Marijuana
  • 29%: “Other” drugs
  • 25%: Heroin, cocaine or their derivatives
  • 6%: Manufactured or synthetic drugs

Pennsylvania drug arrests declined in 2019

The Pennsylvania State Police report 21,789 people were arrested for possessing less than 30 grams of marijuana in 2019, an 11% decline from 2018 when 24,305 people were arrested. While the state has seen a recent drop, the 2019 figure is still higher than in 2009. Since that time, several cities have passed ordinances decriminalizing marijuana, including:

  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Allentown
  • Norristown
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg
  • York
  • Lancaster

Penalties for possession vary widely

Even in communities where pot has been decriminalized, residents can be arrested for possessing up to 30 grams, and fines range from $25 to $500. But, it’s important to remember that marijuana remains illegal, and severe personal and financial consequences can still result if you are arrested.

An experienced criminal defense attorney will protect your rights and challenge the charges against you. Your attorney will thoroughly investigate every aspect of your case, including whether officers had probable cause to search you. An aggressive and knowledgeable legal defense is essential for your future.