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Consequences of Illegal Medical Marijuana Use

Learn about the federal laws regarding the use of medical marijuana in this Howcast video.


Despite all of the news you've heard about medical cannabis being legal in seventeen states and the District of Columbia, medical cannabis remains illegal to this day at the federal level. What this means for you is that, even if you're in a state that's passed a medical cannabis law, the federal government does not recognize your use. The same legal consequences that are there for a recreational user also apply to a medical cannabis patient.

At the federal level most of the enforcement they do around marijuana is on a larger scale. If something's 100 plants they usually, I say this because they'll do whatever they want, don't take up cases of 99 plants or less. But, we have seen the federal government take on individuals who had 25 plants, so it's not a set rule. If you have 100 plants of medical cannabis there is an automatic 5 year mandatory minimum sentence. There are no questions asked.

There is no leniency. If you have 100 plants and you are caught by federal agents and brought to court you will be convicted. There is no defense for you even if you are a patient with a medical cannabis card. You can't even tell the jury that you were using it medically.

I think you'll see medical cannabis activists are often pretty annoyed, and you see us constantly in battle with the federal government. I think if you knew some of the stuff we were looking at you would be pretty upset, too.

The biggest issue with the federal laws is that there's no medical recognition for marijuana. That means if you are in a federal court and, say you were growing it for your family or growing it for yourself, in that courtroom you couldn't even talk about the state law. In fact, U.S. Attorneys have barred patients from being able to use the term medical marijuana in that courtroom.

So, the consequences of marijuana still being illegal federally, and the fact that there's no recognition of its medical use, still affect individuals as well as those people who are following state law and are distributing it to others. If you have 1,000 plants or more that is a 10 year mandatory minimum sentence.

These are federal sentence terms which means there's no getting off early for parole. You will spend 10 years in prison if you have 1,000 plants. You should note that if you're in a drug-free zone, I don't know if you've noticed those little signs underneath or above your parking meters that say this is a drug-free zone, what that actually means is that if you're caught with a drug there they're going to add 5 years onto your sentence no question asked. If you have a weapon on you, even if you have that weapon legally through your state, if you are caught with marijuana and that gun there's a 5 year automatic add-on sentence.

So, the more you know about these laws the better, and, again, all of this information is on our website at

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