How do Philadelphia’s marijuana laws work?

If you’ve ever attended a public event in Philadelphia, you’ve probably at least felt marijuana. It is not legal to smoke openly in public, but many do. After all – you can’t be arrested for this.

This is because the city decriminalized the possession and use of marijuana in 2014. The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) has also shouldn’t arrest you for buying pot. Since then, marijuana-related offenses that would have been charged as a felony are now considered civil non-criminal offenses.

But if you don’t know how marijuana laws work, that doesn’t mean you’re stoned: the laws in New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pennsylvania (outside of Philadelphia) all work differently. We are here to help you.

Key points to remember

  • Marijuana is not legal in Philadelphia, but small amounts have been decriminalized.
  • You can get a ticket if you own, smoke, or buy any amount of weed, even if you bought it legally in New Jersey. You will have to pay a fine, but you will not have a criminal record.
  • You can possess up to one ounce of weed and it is not considered a criminal offence.
  • If you’re on parole or probation, you can still get in trouble, even if you only have a small amount of marijuana.

No. In Philadelphia, marijuana is decriminalized – not legalized. This means that even though marijuana is still technically illegal, you won’t have any criminal problems if you possess, smoke or buy “small amounts” of marijuana in the city, according to PPD. Instead, you will receive a Civil Violation Notice (CVN) which comes with a fine, even if you purchased the marijuana legally in New Jersey.

Civil offenses do not show up on your criminal or driving record.

A “small amount” of marijuana is considered 30 grams or less of a cannabis product, according to City Council Ordinance. So basically 1 oz. weeds.

While New Jersey has legalized the sale of marijuana for adult use, Philadelphians Still Can’t Bring This Legal Weed From New Jersey To Pennsylvania. To do this, you will have to cross state lines with him and this can get you in serious trouble.

Here’s a list of questions you might have about buying marijuana in New Jersey can bring it back to Pennsylvania.

No, as long as it’s less than 30 grams. If you receive a CVN for possession of a small amount of marijuana, you will be fined $25.

No, as long as you have less than 30 grams of marijuana in your possession. If you receive a CVN for smoking marijuana in public, you will be fined $100.

Philadelphia marijuana fines

If you are caught possessing, smoking, or buying less than an ounce of marijuana in Philadelphia, you could be fined.

  • Possession: $25
  • Smoking in public: $100

Technically, no. Although it’s rare to be arrested for – and the district attorney’s office won’t prosecute you for it – buying small amounts of marijuana in Philadelphia can still get you arrested. According to PPD Public Affairs Officer Jasmine Reilly, you will only be arrested for buying small amounts of pot if a misdemeanor or felony occurs during the transaction.

So while Philadelphia laws say you shouldn’t be arrested for buying small amounts of marijuana, it’s still possible that you can.

Yes. And there really are no exceptions to this rule — even if it’s a small amount of pot. Additionally, possession of large amounts of marijuana – over 30 grams – may be considered by investigators to be “intent to sell” marijuana.

“The sale, manufacture or delivery of marijuana is always illegal and a crime,” Reilly said.

If you are caught selling weed, you will most likely be arrested.

Yes. In Pennsylvania, driving under the influence (DUI) is defined as drive with any amount of a controlled substance in the blood. However, with cannabis, its chemicals can stay in the body for a long time after you consume it. So you can still be arrested even if you last smoked a few days ago. Here is a list of questions you may have about driving and using cannabis.

No, as long as you have less than 30 grams of marijuana in your possession. However, the police will temporarily detain you and tell your parent or guardian that you have been caught with marijuana in your possession. You and your parent or guardian will receive a CVN, and your parent or guardian will be responsible for paying the fine.

Philly’s decriminalization order probably doesn’t apply to you. Many Philly residents who are on parole or probation are still in trouble for using or possessing small amounts of marijuana due to the requirements of their court-ordered supervision.

If the terms of your parole or probation require you not to use marijuana, being caught with a small amount or using it could land you in legal trouble.

Philadelphia lawmakers wanted to reduce the number of nonviolent drug-related arrests for small amounts of cannabis — which have historically targeted black residents. Prior to decimalization, more than 300 people were arrested each month for marijuana-related offenses in Philadelphia.

However, selling marijuana or possessing large amounts of it is still illegal and you can be arrested for it.

It is still illegal to:

  • Have more than 30 grams of marijuana in your possession

  • Travel in and out of state with any amount of marijuana

  • Driving under the influence of marijuana

Expert sources

  • Jasmine ReillyPublic Affairs Officer, Philadelphia Police Department



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