Marijuana usage is a hot-button topic in the country nowadays. With states pushing to legalize, it is important to stay grounded in the present. The use and distribution of marijuana is still illegal in Maryland and, depending on the charge, carries harsh penalties if caught. Read on to learn more about:
- Marijuana Charges in Maryland and their Penalties;
- Added Charges and Situations to Avoid Entirely; and
- Your Legal Defense Options When Facing Marijuana Charges.
Maryland’s Marijuana Laws: A Chart of Charges
With most drug charges, there tend to be state and federal penalties you should know about. In Maryland, charges depend on whether you used it personally, had alleged intent to distribute, or alleged trafficking. See the following table for a more detailed breakdown of potential charges:
Personal Use (Civil Defense, Misdemeanor, or Felony):
|Amount:||Prison Time:||Maximum Fine:|
|Less than 10 grams||None||$100|
|From 10 grams to < 50 pounds||1 year||$1,000|
|50 pounds and over||5 years||$100,000|
With intent to distribute (Felony):
|Less than 50 pounds||5 years||$15,000|
|50 pounds and over||Mandatory Minimum of 5 Years||$15,000|
|50 pounds and over||20-40 years||$1,000,000|
|From 10 to (less than) 100 pounds||10 years||$10,000|
|100 pounds and over||25 years||$50,000|
As you can see, the laws in Maryland are much stricter than a few of its nearby neighbors—some of which have passed legislation legalizing marijuana. Nevertheless, as lobbyists for legalization introduce and push legislative action in states around the country, there’s a chance Maryland might see a legal switch-up (or, at least, a proposed one). Until then, you’ll need to keep in mind these penalties and call a lawyer if charged with anything related to marijuana possession—especially if it is on the more severe side of the penalties above.
Additional Marijuana Charges: What You Should Absolutely Avoid
Now: Though the above cover general cases of personal use and distribution—the majority of marijuana charges—there are always outlier cases the law might not explicitly cover.
Drugged driving might involve a personal use or possession charge, but it also tacks on an additional charge of driving under the influence of a controlled substance. This charge may add up to another year in prison and $1,000 in fines, which increases with second and third offenses.
This does not even cover cases involving minors. If a minor is involved in your marijuana charge, expect the possibility for longer sentences and higher fines. For example, getting charged with distributing (or intent to distribute) in a school vehicle or in, on, or within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school, you’re facing felony charges with a possible 20-year maximum prison sentence to follow—not to mention up to $20,000 in fines. A subsequent violation could double the maximum to 40 years and take the fine to $40,000.
The same can be said about selling drug paraphernalia—or equipment used for drug-related acts—to a minor. Typically, distribution of paraphernalia comes with no jail time and maybe a $500 fine. If you sell it to a minor, though, you may be looking at up to 8 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.
Growing Marijuana leads to some sticky legal troubles, too. For example, owning anywhere from one to fifty plants of marijuana may lead to absurdly high fines to the tune of $250,000, along with up to 5 years in prison. As the numbers increase, so do the fines (up to $1,000,000 in some cases).
As you can see, additional possession charges can turn something simple on its head very quickly. Therefore, you will want to exercise caution in avoiding any charges to safeguard your future.
However, in the case you are charged with any of the offenses mentioned above, call a lawyer and talk out your options.
Defense Against a Marijuana Charge: Getting Out of a Tough Situation
You will always stand a fair chance with a criminal defense attorney on your side. In past blog posts, we have mentioned certain defense strategies that may apply to a wide array of cases. 4th Amendment Wrongful Search-related defenses are key to drug charges.
At the center of a drug possession charge is a police officer claiming they found said drug in your possession. Whether that is on your person, in your house, or in a car or other type of vehicle, keep your rights in mind. Police can’t just search everywhere or anywhere they want. If there was a violation of your 4th Amendment rights that took place, let your lawyer know, and they will investigate the full extent of it to use in your favor.
The same may be said for surveillance; if police have no reason to surveil you ahead of a marijuana charge, fight it.
In addition, consider the following: even if a police officer finds marijuana in your vehicle or home, does it make it yours? Constructive possession is a legal term that refers to owning or having control over a piece of property without having physical control over it. In the context of marijuana, if police find marijuana in your home but not on your person, they might hand down a charge based on constructive possession. Challenging this in court may prove very successful in getting you out of any charges.
Also, never discount your legal possession of marijuana: if you have marijuana for medical purposes, a prosecutor shouldn’t have grounds to press a damaging charge against you.
Stay calm and contact our offices for a free initial consultation if law enforcement sends marijuana-related charges your way. We will help you fight them aggressively and effectively, so a single joint doesn’t ruin your shot at a normal future.