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What penalties does Maryland have for drug charges?

On Behalf of | Dec 15, 2022 | drug crimes |

In Maryland, possession of drugs is taken very seriously and can lead to jail time. Maryland Criminal Statute 5-601 covers possession of controlled dangerous substances. In Maryland, individuals are prohibited from possessing controlled dangerous substances, including narcotic prescriptions if not prescribed to them. The penalties for being in possession of drugs vary depending on the substance that the person is in possession of.

Possession of any drug, except marijuana

Possession is usually charged as a misdemeanor.  For most substances, the maximum penalty is one year in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 if you are a first-time offender. However, the laws are different for the possession of marijuana products. A first-time offender charged with possession of marijuana could face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Maryland has decriminalized the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana, but you could be issued a civil citation for this offense. You may possess up to a certain amount of marijuana if you have a valid state certified ID card.

Possession With Intent to Distribute (PWID)

An individual could face felony drug charges if they are in possession of narcotics with the intent to distribute if they are caught with a more significant weight of drugs. The amount varies by the type of narcotic:

  • Cocaine – 448 grams
  • Crack cocaine – 50 grams
  • LSD – 1,000 dosage units
  • Marijuana –50 pounds
  • Methamphetamines – 448 grams
  • Opioids – 26 grams
  • PCP – 16 ounces

Possession with intent to distribute is a felony in Maryland. The State must have certain evidence for this charge, including but not limited to showing that the suspect has enough of a drug to reasonably indicate plans to distribute the substance or other indicia of sale such as possession of scales or other paraphernalia. Often times, in PWID cases, the defendant is communicating with people about the drop off or pick up of drugs, the price of certain amounts of drugs, they are in possession of scales, cash, small zip lock bags etc.

The penalties for PWID depend on two factors, (1) the type of substance and (2) the amount possessed. Certain drugs can be categorized into Schedule 1 or 2 narcotics (heroin, cocaine, fentanyl, etc.) or hallucinogens such as LSD or PCP. If you are a first-time offender charged with distributing these drugs, you could face up to 20 years in jail and a $15,000 fine. A second-time offender may see a 10-year minimum sentence in jail. For a third-time offender, the individual can face a 25-year mandatory minimum jail sentence. A fourth-time offender may be subject to a 40-year mandatory sentence. There are exceptions to the mandatory sentences. A first-time offence for Possession with intent to distribute marijuana can be five years in jail with a $15,000 fine.

Schedule of substances

Schedule I: Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs. They come with no medical benefit and a high rate of abuse. These include

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • MDMA
  • LSD
  • Bath Salts

Schedule II: Schedule II drugs are less dangerous than schedule I. They come with a high potential for abuse and limited medical benefits under severe restrictions. These include:

  • Amphetamine
  • Barbiturates
  • Cocaine
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydrocodone
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamine
  • Morphine

Schedule III: Schedule III drugs have a medium level of abuse and come with acceptable medical uses. These can include:

  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Drugs with more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dose

Schedule IV and V are the least dangerous drugs and have the lowest potential for abuse. In addition, these drugs have a regular medical use.



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