Maryland Drug Charges - Marijuana Possession

Maryland Drug Charges - Marijuana Possession

Maryland made a big change in its marijuana possession laws in 2014. Being found in possession of small amounts was decriminalized. It’s important to note that lawmakers did not legalize marijuana but made possession of less than 10 grams a civil offense that results in a $100 ticket for a first offense. The change in Maryland’s drug possession laws meant that being found with small amounts of marijuana no longer led to an arrest and a criminal record.

So, Maryland marijuana possession that used to send people to jail and into Maryland’s criminal justice system can now amount to nothing more than a civil penalty. This means that thousands of cases each year no longer lead to a criminal record.

In some areas of Maryland, arrest can be avoided for an amount exceeding 10 grams if the police believe your “stash” to be for personal use. In Baltimore County, prosecutors reportedly have advised police against searching pockets or vehicles if they believe the person is holding an amount below the decriminalized threshold.

The smell of marijuana may still be used as a basis to search a vehicle and smoke billowing out of a car may create probable cause to search a car. But, if an officer knows there is less than 10 grams involved, they can’t go any further.

Penalties for Maryland Marijuana Possession

In Maryland, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I controlled hallucinogenic substance.

Simple possession, which is possession without the intent to distribute, of less than 10 grams is a civil offense with a fine of up to $100 for a first offense. The fine is up to $250 for a second offense and up to $500 for third or subsequent offenses.

Possession of 10 grams to 50 pounds of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Possession of 50 pounds or more of marijuana is a misdemeanor with a punishment of a minimum of five years in jail and fine not exceeding $1,000.

Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

In Maryland, cultivation is punished as either simple possession or as possession with intent to deliver, depending on the amount of marijuana being produced and other factors that may lead to the conclusion that the marijuana was being grown for reasons other than strict personal use.

Possession of marijuana-related paraphernal is now a civil violation under Maryland law.

Federal Drug Laws

Federal law can be a factor in certain limited circumstances. The federal government has its own penalties for marijuana possession.

Federal law still criminalizes the possession and sale of marijuana. The federal government still has the power to penalize everything from simple marijuana possession to the manufacturing and cultivation as well as trafficking and distribution of marijuana. Federal law usually wins. However, most federal law enforcement agencies “look the other way” when it comes to state handling of the majority of marijuana cases, except in instances of possessing marijuana on federal land.

If you are charged with marijuana possession in Maryland, you should talk to a Maryland criminal defense attorney. A Baltimore drug lawyer can get the charges reduced or work out a plea bargain, among other defense options. The attorneys at The Law Offices of Thomas J. Maronick have experience handling these cases. You can contact Thomas Maronick on his cellphone at 202.288.0167, the law office at 410.934.3007 or via our website for a free consultation.