Illegal drugs bring its users loads of problems – like no money, addiction, and jail time. While Maryland has strict laws on the possession and sale of controlled substances, not all controlled substances or situations are the same in the eyes of the law.
Knowing what is and is not legal can be the difference between charged with a crime or not.
- What is a drug charge in Maryland?
- These four drug charges could mean fines and jail time, if convicted.
- Prescription medications can prompt drug charges, too!
What Is a Drug Charge in Maryland?
Possessing, distributing, using, or manufacturing illegal drugs is against the law in Maryland. Those drugs are typically defined by the federal 1970 Controlled Substances Act.
In Maryland, all drugs – that is, body or mind-altering chemical substances – fall in to one of five “schedules,” or categories. Schedule I drugs are the “most” illegal, while Schedule V are the “least” illegal.
For example, heroin is a Schedule I drug; NyQuil falls into schedule V.
Typically, drugs we consider to be against the law tend to be substances that fall into Schedule I or II. Law enforcement calls this type of drug a Controlled Dangerous Substance, or CDS.
Drug charges occur when someone gets caught with Schedule I or II drugs by law enforcement. Simply having or – worse – being suspected of selling a Schedule I or II drug will bring trouble from the law.
On the other hand, having schedule III or IV drugs without a prescription can bring legal trouble, too.
Typically, felony charges come with accusations of distributing Schedule I or II drugs in Maryland.
Really, though, any drug can lead to legal issues, whether it’s Schedule I or Schedule V – especially when law enforcement thinks you’re making or selling those substances.
That’s because any drugs bought, sold, or consumed without legally authorized medical use in Maryland is illegal. Even drugs with medical use bring charges when possessed or used without a prescription.
Four Types of Drug Possession Charges in Maryland
Maryland has four different types of drug possession charges.
- Possession of a controlled dangerous substance – To carry, buy, or hold drugs.
- Possession with the intent to distribute – Dispensing or selling drugs to others.
- Non-medical marijuana possession – 10 grams or less of marijuana is not criminal per Maryland state law. More than 10 grams is a criminal offense without a prescription. (Maryland allows patients to have 120 grams or four ounces of marijuana.)
- Possession of drug paraphernalia – Anything used to consume or manufacture illegal drugs is considered “paraphernalia.” Possession of that paraphernalia is a civil offense in Maryland. And, the sale or advertising of paraphernalia is criminal, too.
Each charge can range in severity, from civil to misdemeanor to felony. Penalties vary, too, based on the type of drug, the quantity, and whether the drug got distributed.
For example, distribution charges are felony and carry prison time up to 20 years and maximum fines of $100,000.
On the other hand, having small amounts of marijuana (10 grams or less!) results in a civil citation with a fine of $100. Larger quantities can result in felony convictions and fines upwards of $100,000.
Prescription Drugs Can Lead to Legal Problems, Too!
Typically, prescription medications are schedule III and IV drug classifications. That’s why you need a prescription from a licensed medical doctor to get them.
The doctor is basically certifying that per their medical expertise, you need this (potentially dangerous) substance to help with your health – in this quantity, taken in this specific way. That makes medicine a CDS.
After all, prescription drugs still have an increased risk for abuse. Medication such as opioids, stimulants, and central nervous-system depressants are often misused – that is, taken for reasons other than their prescribed purpose.
Medications are also illegal when not properly stored in the prescription bottle. That little label on the bottle proves legal ownership, as well as the prescriber and the pharmacy from which the medicine came.
Without that bottle, there’s no way to tell what the pill is, let alone who it’s for and where it came from.
That’s how carrying medicine in a non-labeled pill container can lead to criminal drug charges.
People can even receive DUI charges, too, for driving under the influence … of their prescribed medications.
That’s why you should never dismiss the warnings on those bottles state not to operate heavy machinery while using the pills. Choosing to drive while on that medication can prompt a traffic stop and then a DUI charge.
Drug charges can wreck personal and professional lives. They limit job and housing opportunities for as long as they remain on a person’s record – not to mention costing a ton of time and money in jail time and fines.
A strong criminal defense attorney helps mitigate the consequences of drug charges, while ensuring that the court considers your side of the story before automatically convicting a defendant.
After all, mistakes happen – don’t let one ruin your life ahead. Contact The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC for your free initial consultation.