When Marijuana Possession Becomes a Criminal Offense in Maryland

Recent Maryland drug law changes have decriminalized certain marijuana possession offenses, but not all. Contact a criminal defense lawyer near you if you have been charged with a marijuana or drug crimes offense. Keep reading for information on when marijuana possession is considered a misdemeanor or a felony, versus a civil infraction.

Keep in mind that medical marijuana use is legal in Maryland for qualifying patients. However, personal or home cultivation is not considered legal within the state.

Less than 10 Grams of Marijuana Possession

Since 2014, Maryland residents or visitors found in possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana may be charged with a civil offense. A civil offense or infraction is not considered a criminal charge, and generally the penalty for such violations of the law is a monetary fine.

For first-time offenders of less than 10 grams of marijuana possession, that fine will be up to but not exceeding $100. A second-time offense will result in a higher fine of $250, while three or more offenses will leave you with a $500 fine.

Greater than 10 Grams

On the other hand, marijuana possession of 10 grams or more (up to under 50 grams) is considered a misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense. It may be penalized with a higher fine and some jail time.

If convicted, punishment for this criminal offense can include up to one year of jail time and a hefty fine of $1,000 or less.

Over 50 Pounds

Possession of 50 or more grams of marijuana is considered a felony, or a serious criminal offense penalized with a mandatory prison sentence and fine. The minimum incarceration length for this offense is 5 years. Fines can reach as high $100,000 but not exceed that amount.

Marijuana Possession with Intent to Distribute

While minimal possession of marijuana can be reduced to a civil offense or misdemeanor, that’s not the case if you are found in possession with intent to distribute. Even possession of less than 50 pounds of marijuana can be categorized as a felony depending on other factors such as cell phone evidence, larger than normal amounts of cash, and other indicia that indicates an intent to distribute. with intent to distribute is categorized as a felony, punishable by a fine up to $15,000 and 5 years or less of jail time.

That sentence can be increased to at least 5 years of state imprisonment and a fine of $100,000 or less if the marijuana possession is for 50 pounds or more.

Possession near a school zone

Charges are much more severe when possession and intent to distribute is discovered within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school. When involving a minor, the adult can be charged with a crime that if found guilty can be sentenced up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

Find a Drug Crime Attorney in Ocean City, MD

Drug crimes such as marijuana possession can leave a big impact on your work and personal life in their wake, especially when they are considered a misdemeanor or a felony. A criminal record will follow you around as you apply for jobs, home loans, and more.

Before that happens or before you find yourself facing large fines and imprisonment, work with a skilled drug lawyer and criminal defense attorney to help reduce charges. They may even be able to work out a plea bargain on your behalf.

For individuals in Ocean City, MD or surrounding areas, reach out to The Law Office of C. Gregory Coburn. Our trusted criminal defense lawyer has served Maryland residents and visitors for 30 years, working on hundreds of drug crime cases. Let us build you a strong defense for a marijuana possession case. Contact our law firm today for a free consultation.