In Maryland, drug crimes are strictly prosecuted and often severely punished. Marijuana, or cannabis, is the most widely abused drug in both the U.S. and the world as a whole. Because of the recent changes in many states concerning medical marijuana use, law enforcement has cracked down on illegitimate users. As the state works toward their own comprehensive medical marijuana laws, law enforcement will be cracking down on marijuana offenders. The most common marijuana offense committed is marijuana possession and though it does not seem serious, it can, in fact, carry stiff drug penalties.
Marijuana Possession in Maryland
Title 5 of Maryland Criminal Law § 5-601, makes it illegal “to possess … a controlled dangerous substance, unless obtained directly or by prescription or order from an authorized provider acting in the course of professional practice.” This section also makes it illegal to possess or attempt to possess any controlled dangerous substance by way of:
- Misrepresentation, deceit, subterfuge, or fraud;
- Altering or counterfeiting a prescription or order;
- Using a false name or address;
- Falsely representing or taking the title of an authorized manufacturer, provider, or distributor; or
- Making, presenting, or issuing a counterfeit prescription or order.
A person who is found guilty of possessing marijuana can be charged with a misdemeanor and be sentenced to a maximum imprisonment of 1 year and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. However, if a person has been found guilty of marijuana possession with intent to distribute, the penalties can be much more severe.
Medical Marijuana Affirmative Defense
Current state medical marijuana law states that patients possessing or using marijuana due to a debilitating medical condition, for which marijuana provides therapeutic relief, may present an “affirmative defense” if they are prosecuted for possessing or consuming marijuana. However, patients may only use this defense if the quantity of marijuana in possession is less than one ounce and if they did not use it in public. The original bill, SB 308, would have allowed for possession of six ounces; however that was decreased to one before finally being approved in May 2011.
Protecting Your Future
A marijuana possession conviction, as established above, may not carry the harsh penalties that another drug may, but that does not mean a suspected offender is home free. Anyone charged with a marijuana crime would be well advised to speak to a knowledgeable attorney. While state medical marijuana laws are being established, there may be many gray areas involving marijuana crimes. Having a lawyer who thoroughly understands state marijuana laws can be essential to help you avoid excessive penalties. If you have been charged with marijuana possession, contact the aggressive drug defense attorneys at Alpert Schreyer for a consultation. We will help to protect your legal rights and help to ensure that you are treated fairly under the law. Call us today at (866) 444-6363.