As the law presently stands in Oklahoma, the possession or distribution of marijuana in this state is illegal. The penalties for violating marijuana-related criminal laws vary depending on the circumstances underlying the arrest, but may be summarized as follows:
- For a first-time misdemeanor possession only, a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in jail may be imposed.
- If you are arrested for a second or subsequent possession offense while on probation or within ten years of completion of the sentence received on the first marijuana charge, the penalty goes from misdemeanor to felony status. The fine increases to an amount up to $5,000, and the possible prison sentence ranges from two to ten years.
- For either of the above, if your arrest includes special circumstances (e.g., you are apprehended within 1,000 feet of a school or in the presence of a child not yet 12 years of age), the penalties double for a first-time offense and treble for a second or subsequent conviction.
- Selling marijuana is a felony that carries a fine of up to $20,000 fine and a two-to-life prison sentence for first-time violators, with penalties doubling for subsequent offenses.
- “Trafficking” in marijuana (involving quantities measured in 25 or more pounds) can upon conviction trigger fines from $25,000 to as much as $100,000 and 4-life in prison.
A handful of other states, however, including nearby Colorado, have legalized marijuana for recreational use, and this has caused some friction between that state and Oklahoma. Oklahoma and Nebraska have both filed a lawsuit against Colorado directly to the US Supreme Court, based on accusations that Colorado’s legalization not only undermines the plaintiff states’ laws against marijuana but also constitutes a violation of federal law that still makes possession of marijuana illegal.
Although Colorado’s marijuana legalization law makes it a felony to transport the drug across that state’s borders, that has not necessarily prevented some individuals from carrying it into Oklahoma. According to the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs, in 2014 about a dozen cases arose in which marijuana from Colorado was intercepted in this state.
As for the damages that Oklahoma alleges to have suffered from the alleged infiltration of marijuana from Colorado, the state’s lawsuit claims that the costs associated with making arrests and seizing and transporting the drug and the suspects all qualify.
The ultimate question of the legality or illegality of marijuana possession seems destined to remain in a state of confusion, at least for the short term. On the issue of federal law trumping state legalization laws, for example, not only does it appear that the federal government has thus far adopted a laissez-faire approach to the conflict but some representatives in the US House of Representatives have begun to propose legislation that would tax the drug at the federal level and regulate it in the same way as alcohol.
Still, until the dispute with Colorado over marijuana legalization laws is resolved, Oklahoma residents thinking about purchasing marijuana in Colorado and bringing it back to this state need to be aware that being arrested in the attempt to do so can lead to criminal charges in both states.