Simple Possession and Paraphernalia: Not so Simple

In recent years, many people have relaxed their opinions on the use of controlled substances, and many believe that drugs such as marijuana should be completely legal for recreational and medicinal use. However, the State of Mississippi does not share that opinion. While younger Mississippians and college students may be more stereotypical users of controlled substances, all residents of our State should know what legal consequences may come along with the possession of those substances.

Mississippi’s simple possession law depends on the amount of whatever drug is found on the person. For marijuana and similar synthetic substances, weight is the metric used to dole out punishment. For other substances classified in Schedules I or II besides marijuana (such as LSD), the punishment is determined by the amount of “dosage units,” the form on which depend on the drug.

This article will focus mainly on marijuana, as it is far and away the most common Schedule I drug used by Mississippians. Mississippi Code Annotated § 41-29-139(c) defines simple possession of drugs as the unlawful possession of any controlled substance that is not validly prescribed. The punishment for possession of marijuana starts at thirty (30) grams or less, and is punishable by a fine of between $100 and $250 with no jail time. This section probably pertains to more people than others, as this is a common amount of marijuana used for personal recreation.

As light as the above punishment may seem, it increases with every subsequent violation. A second conviction under the above law within 2 years will get you a $250 fine and between 5 and 60 days in the county jail, as well as mandatory participation in a drug education program. A third violation within 2 years is a misdemeanor that comes with a fine between $250 and $500, and confinement in the county jail between 5 days and 6 months. Don’t forget; this is the smallest amount of marijuana that Mississippi law speaks to, and naturally the possible fines and jail time increase with the amount.

Penalties are considerably stricter when a controlled substance is found in a motor vehicle (not including the trunk). Possession of between 1 and 30 grams of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle is automatically a misdemeanor, and may lead to a fine of not more than $1,000 and no more than 90 days in the county jail. Miss. Code Ann. § 41-29-139(c)(2)(A)(2). Of course, the punishment increases when higher amounts of marijuana are discovered.

More prevalent with younger Mississippians, and college students in particular, is the possession of paraphernalia with which to use controlled substances. In Mississippi, it is illegal for a person not authorized by a lawful authority to use or possess paraphernalia used to engage in drug use. Mississippi Code Annotated § 41-29-139(d)(1) contains 22 different words to describe “use” or “grow,” and therefore paraphernalia can take many forms. Violation of the section regarding paraphernalia is a misdemeanor, and may lead to a stay in the county jail no longer than 6 months, a $500 fine, or both. When paraphernalia is sold to someone under 18 years old who is at least 3 years younger than the seller, the maximum punishment doubles to a jail sentence of up to 1 year, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.

To many, marijuana and other controlled substances are simply a source of entertainment or an escape from the stress of daily life. However, when the State of Mississippi gets involved, these substances can become drain on your finances, and possibly even your freedom. If you find yourself in a situation where you may be facing charges on possession of controlled substances or paraphernalia, call the Law Office of M. Devin Whitt at 601-607-5055 to schedule a free consultation.