With marijuana usage becoming legal in many parts of the country, many people may be under the misconception that Maryland has followed suit. However, this is not the case — marijuana possession and distribution remains a crime and depending on the amount possessed, carries with it a varying range of serious penalties.
Marijuana is in the Schedule 1 of controlled hallucinogenic substances in Maryland. There are two categories under which marijuana usage and possession can be divided — personal use and intent to distribute.
Simple possession for personal use — that is, possession without intent to distribute — of less than 10 grams of marijuana is treated as a civil offense and a fine of $100 is imposed. Between 10 grams and 50 grams of possession for personal use is treated as a misdemeanor, with a one-year prison sentence and a maximum fine of $1,000. If more than 50 grams of marijuana are possessed, it is treated as a felony, with a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and a maximum fine of $100,000.
Possession with intent to distribute are always treated more seriously, with the mandatory minimum sentence ranging from five years (less than 50 grams of marijuana) to 20-40 years (more than 50 grams of marijuana, or a drug kingpin). In addition to this, if a minor is involved or the drugs are found in a school vehicle or near a school, the mandatory minimum sentence and the maximum possible fine are even more.
The authorities treat drug crimes seriously and a felony on the record remains there forever, impacting the accused’s life in many ways for years to come. Mounting a strong defense is one way to fight these charges and an experienced defense attorney may be able to suggest others, depending on the individual facts, including a plea bargain.
Source: General Assembly of Maryland, “s.5-402,” Accessed on January 19, 2016