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Legalization of Marijuana - Utah Criminal Defense Attorney

Other states have passed laws legalizing possession of marijuana for both medical and recreational purposes. But under current Utah law, possession of any amount of marijuana is punishable as a crime, whether you are a resident of Utah or of another state. If you are facing criminal charges in Utah for marijuana possession or distribution, you need an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney.  Based in Salt Lake City, Stephen Howard defends clients charged with marijuana possession and other crimes throughout Utah. He has a record of achieving real results for clients facing serious criminal charges.

Legalization of Marijuana in Other States

There is a growing group of people who argue for the complete legalization of marijuana. Several jurisdictions have legalized marijuana for medical purposes (California, Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, etc.) Colorado law was changed recently to allow legal possession of small amounts of marijuana for recreational purposes - without the need for a doctor's prescription or medical card. While Utah has created a narrow exception for the possession of hemp extract, Utah law continues to criminalize the possession of marijuana.

Criminal Marijuana Charges for Out-of-State Residents in Utah

The following are a few examples of possible criminal charges that out-of-state residents could face in relation to marijuana use or possession in Utah.

Utah Marijuana Defense LawyerCriminal Possession of Marijuana in Utah - While marijuana has been legalized in other jurisdictions, it remains a crime in Utah to possess any amount of marijuana, regardless of the legal status of marijuana in a person's home state. Simple possession of less than an ounce of marijuana in Utah is typically punishable as a class B misdemeanor (maximum punishment 180 days jail). Possession of larger amounts, or possession with the intent to distribute can lead to felony charges.

Utah DUI Metabolite - In addition to being charged with possession of marijuana in Utah, out-of-state residents driving through Utah may also find themselves charged with what is sometimes called a "DUI Metabolite" charge. Utah's criminal code prohibits driving a vehicle while a person has any measurable amount of a controlled substance or a controlled substance metabolite in the person's body. This charge can be filed even if there is no evidence whatsoever of driver impairment.

Possession of Marijuana with the Intent to Distribute - On occasion, a person coming to Utah for an extended visit may be tempted to bring an extra large supply of marijuana from their home-state. Such action may allow a person to avoid the risks involved in illegally buying marijuana in Utah, but it also puts that person at risk for higher level drug charges including felony possession with intent to distribute. Utah criminal charges for distribution or possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute can each result in a prison term of 0-5 years. If the offense occurs in a drug free zone, the penalty jumps to a possible 1-15 years in prison.

Resolving Marijuana Charges for Out-of-State Defendants

While Utah law does not formally provide for any special accommodations for out-of-state residents, many Utah prosecutors understand that these people may be law-abiding citizens in their home states. In some cases, a prosecutor will be willing to consider the out-of-state resident status of a defendant and agree to a negotiated resolution that will not require the defendant to return to Utah for court. Utah criminal attorney Stephen Howard has successfully negotiated plea in abeyance agreements for out-of-state clients resulting in dismissal of  marijuana and other related charges.

Finding a Utah Criminal Defense Attorney in Utah

Criminal Lawyer Salt LakeIf you are facing criminal charges for possession of marijuana, you need an experienced attorney on your side.  After handling thousands of serious felony and misdemeanor charges, Salt Lake criminal defense attorney Stephen Howard has the experience to help you get the results you need.

Contact us now to schedule an initial consultation today.


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  • Criminal Defense AttorneyDismissed - Contractor was charged with theft by deception for allegedly misusing customer funds and failing to complete work that had been agreed upon. A successful motion to quash on legal grounds following the bindover order at preliminary hearing resulted in a complete dismissal of all charges.
  • Minor Possession Alcohol - MIP AttorneyDismissed - Minor in possession charge (MIP) was dismissed by prosecutor when defense analysis demonstrated that the police had failed to obtain necessary evidence against client. Police had raided a large party involving underage drinking. Several individuals were charged, but police did not obtain evidence showing that client had personally consumed or possessed alcohol. Case was dismissed.
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  • Utah Burglary Attorney Dismissal - Client was charged with first-degree felony home burglary and facing potential life in prison. Defense analysis revealed flaws in prosecutor's case which led to abeyance agreement intended to lead to a full dismissal of the case.
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Serving Salt Lake, Davis, Weber, Utah, Cache, Tooele, Summit, Box Elder, and Wasatch Counties, and all of Utah.

Attorney Stephen Howard practices as part of the Canyons Law Group, LLC and Stephen W. Howard, PC.

Offices in Salt Lake and Davis Counties
560 South 300 East, Suite 200, Salt Lake City, UT 84111
952 S. Main St., Suite A, Layton, UT 84041

Call now to arrange for a confidential initial consultation with an experienced and effective Utah criminal defense lawyer.

In Salt Lake City, call 801-449-1409.
In Davis County, call 801-923-4345.

Stephen W. Howard, PC

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