Saturday, October 9, 2010

Federal sentencing guidelines for commercial pot growers.

In United States v. Booker (2005), a Supreme Court decision from January 2005, the court ruled that the federal sentencing guidelines (as outlined above) are advisory and no longer mandatory. However, many federal judges continue to give great deference to the guidelines.

In addition to the sentencing guidelines, there are statutory mandatory minimum sentences, which remain in effect after United States v. Booker and primarily target offenses involving large amounts of marijuana. There is a five-year mandatory minimum for cultivation of 100 plants or possession of 100kgs, and there is a ten-year mandatory minimum for these offenses if the defendant has a prior felony drug conviction. Cultivation or possession of 1000kg or 1000 plants triggers a ten-year mandatory minimum, with a twenty-year mandatory sentence if the defendant has one prior felony drug conviction, and a life sentence with two prior felony drug convictions. To avoid a five-year mandatory minimum, it is advisable to stay well below 100 plants, including any rooted cuttings or clones.

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