11 states, including the District of Columbia, have legalized recreational marijuana use, and 34 states allow medical marijuana use. Several states have recently legalized recreational marijuana, but Maryland is not one of them. In Maryland, marijuana is still illegal, although if you are caught with a tiny amount of marijuana, you will face civil, not criminal penalties.
Many Marylanders are arrested for possession of marijuana while traveling to and from D.C., which has legalized marijuana possession. Even if you purchase the marijuana in D.C., you can still face charges if you are caught with it in Maryland. The more marijuana in your possession, the greater the penalties you will face. We will discuss the penalties for marijuana possession below.
Possession of Less Than 10 Grams of Marijuana
In Maryland, possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is not considered a criminal offense. However, keep in mind that just because you will not receive a criminal charge for possessing under 10 grams of marijuana, doing so is still illegal. You will be subjected to civil penalties. Possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is not a crime, so you will not face jail time, an arrest, or have to live with a criminal record. You will have to pay the following penalties:
- For the first offense, you will pay a fine of $100
- For the second offense, you will pay a fine of up to $250
- For the third or subsequent offense, you will pay a fine of up to $500
Additionally, if you are caught in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana, you may need to appear in court. If you are under the age of 21, you must appear in court, and the court could order you to attend a drug treatment program. If you are over the age of 21, you will need to appear in court if you are facing your third or subsequent offense charges.
Will You Have a Record for Possession of Less Than 10 Grams of Marijuana?
As criminal defense lawyers in Baltimore, we are often asked by clients whether they will have a record for possession of under 10 grams of marijuana. The answer is probably not. The Maryland court system will collect the payment of your civil fine. The official record of your citation will not be available to the public and will not appear on the case search function when one of the following conditions applies:
- The defendant prepaid his or her fine
- The defendant plead guilty or has been found guilty of the violation and has paid the fine and costs associated with the violation
- The defendant received probation before the judgment and fully paid the fines, and completed all of the terms imposed by the court
- The state has entered a nolle prosequi;
- The defendant has been found not guilty
- The case has been dismissed
Many people brush off charges of marijuana possession, but it is wise to take these charges seriously and to contact an experienced attorney for legal assistance.
Penalties for More Than 10 Grams of Marijuana
If you have been discovered with over 10 grams of marijuana, the penalties increase. Under Maryland law, possession of between 10 and 50 lb. of marijuana is considered a misdemeanor charge. You could spend up to one year in jail and pay up to a $1,000 fine. If you are found with 50 pounds or more of marijuana, you will face felony charges. The penalties involve at least five years in prison and a potential $10,000 fine.
Prosecutors will also consider other aspects of your case to decide whether to bring additional charges or enhance the penalties. If a police officer discovers you smoking or using marijuana in public, you will face a $500 civil penalty. Additionally, if you have already been convicted of a marijuana-related crime, you will face higher penalties and potentially higher fines. If the officer arresting you suspected that she was not using the marijuana for your personal use. Still, you intended to distribute the marijuana, you will face a more serious drug distribution charge.
The Penalties for Selling Marijuana in Maryland
Prosecutors will consider the amount of marijuana present at your arrest, the presence of baggies, scales, and any other evidence that you intended to distribute the marijuana to other people. When prosecutors discover any of this evidence, they will consider bringing drug distribution charges against you. Drug distribution charges are highly subjective. Your defense lawyer will be able to investigate your case and argue that the prosecutor should drop your charges down to simple marijuana possession.
Marijuana distribution charges are considered felony charges because defendants face over a year in jail if convicted. Defendants will face even harsher penalties if they were distributing marijuana in a school zone, had previous convictions, or the charge involved minors in any way. When an adult uses a minor as part of a conspiracy to distribute or manufacture marijuana, he or she can face a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $20,000.
If you are charged with drug distribution after being caught with 50 lb. or less of marijuana, you face a maximum prison sentence of five years and a fine of up to $15,000. If you were in possession of more than 50 lb. of marijuana, the minimum sentence increases to five years in prison, and you will pay a maximum fine of up to $100,000.
About Brian Bishop
Brian Bishop started the Bishop Law Group in October 2018. Mr. Bishop is an active member of Maryland Association of Justice, The American Association of Justice, The Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys. Mr. Bishop has received a nationally ranked Top 40 Under 40 Attorney award since 2017. Mr. Bishop has also been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers. The American Institute of Personal Injury Attorneys has named Brian Bishop as one of The 10 Best Attorneys for Outstanding Client Services.