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Penalties for marijuana use and possession in Maryland

There has been a growing movement in the United States to decriminalize the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana. In fact, several states have now made it legal for citizens to use marijuana in the privacy of their own home. And, while marijuana use is still not legal in Maryland, penalties for simple possession and use are less severe. But, penalties for having larger amounts of the drug can still qualify for stiff financial punishment and jail time.

In Maryland, anyone who is arrested for simply possessing under 10 grams of marijuana without the intent to distribute does not face a drug charge. Having this amount of marijuana is not even considered a misdemeanor crime in the state, and is punishable only by a fine. A first-time offender would be issued a fine of $100 and a second-time offender would be charged $250.

The possession of marijuana becomes a misdemeanor offense in Maryland if someone is found to have between 10 grams and 50 pounds of the drug. As can be expected, the penalties for this quantity of marijuana are more severe and can include jail time of up to one year and a maximum fine of $1,000.

Penalties for possession charges that include the intent to distribute marijuana are even harsher in the state. Someone who is charged with possession with the intent to distribute less than 50 pounds of the drug faces a felony offense. Penalties can be up to five years in jail and up to $15,000 in fines. Being convicted of having more than 50 pounds of marijuana is also a felony and can bring a minimum jail sentence of five years.

Among the state's most serious penalties related to marijuana possession are those that take place near a school. Anyone who is convicted of possessing marijuana with the intent to distribute it within 1000 feet of any type of school property faces jail time of up to 20 years and a fine of up to $20,000.

Source: www.norml.org, "Maryland laws and penalties," April 26, 2015

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