Recreational marijuana use is now legal in some states in the nation, but it is still technically against the law in Maryland. However, in 2014 a law was passed in Maryland that made possessing under 10 grams of the drug merely a civil offense rather than a criminal one. A first-time violation of this law will result in a $100 fine. A second violation of this law will result in a $250 fine. Subsequent violations of this law will result in a $500 fine. If a person is under age 21 or if it is the third time they have violated this law, they will be assessed for substance abuse disorder and they may be ordered to attend a drug education program.
However, police in Maryland generally do not have scales on them to measure how much marijuana a person possesses. They must resort to “eyeballing” it. This could become problematic if, in fact, a person is under the 10-gram threshold but is nevertheless charged with a more serious drug crime because the arresting officer estimated the person was in possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana.
As the law currently stands, possessing between 10 grams to 50 pounds of marijuana could lead to a sentence of up to a year in prison and/or a fine in the amount of $1,000. It is considered a misdemeanor offense. If it is a person’s third offense or if the person is under 21-years-old they will be assessed for substance abuse disorder and they may be ordered to attend a drug education program.
So, while decriminalizing the possession of a small amount of marijuana may benefit some people in Maryland, it is important to understand that this law only goes so far, and an initial determination of how much marijuana a person possesses can be subjective. Moreover, while Maryland laws on marijuana possession are relatively lenient, marijuana possession is still a crime under federal law. With all this in mind, those who are accused of possessing more than 10 grams of marijuana will want to make sure they understand the charges they face, so they can make informed decisions regarding their defense.