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What are the penalties for drug possession in Maryland?

Heroin and other opiate use is becoming more prevalent in Maryland and across the nation. A 2016 poll conducted by the Washington Post and University of Maryland reported that three out of every 10 people in the state have a close friend or relative who has an opioid addiction. Therefore, it is important for residents of Maryland to understand the state's drug laws with regards to the opioid epidemic and the penalties associated with them.

For example, the penalties for a person found to be in possession of a controlled substance other than marijuana, such as heroin, are as follows: misdemeanor offenses could result in as many as four years in prison and/or a $25,000 fine. If a person is in possession of 28 grams or more of a controlled substance, this is a felony that could result in a prison sentence of up to 25 years and/or a $50,000 fine. These penalties are doubled if it is a subsequent offense.

When it comes to marijuana possession, if a person is in possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, then it would be considered a civil, not a criminal, offense and the person would have to pay a fine of up to $100. If a person found to be in possession of 10 grams to 50 pounds of marijuana, this is a misdemeanor, and the person could have to spend as many as 12 months in jail and could face a $1,000 fine, as well. If a person is convicted of possessing more than 50 pounds of marijuana, then they will face felony penalties, which include up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If a person is convicted of marijuana possession and is either under the age of 21 or is a third-time offender, then he or she must be assessed to determine if they have a substance abuse problem. Depending on the results of that assessment, an individual may be required to attend a drug education program.

Keep in mind that these penalties are only for drug possession. There are other penalties for the manufacturing or trafficking of drugs. Since any penalties associated with drug charges are, of course, undesirable, those facing them may want to make sure they seek the legal help needed to formulate a solid defense strategy.

Source: FindLaw, "Maryland Drug Laws," Accessed June 19, 2017

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