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Maryland Laws and Penalties for Marijuana Possession


Outside of certain exceptions for medicinal use, marijuana possession remains an illegal activity in Maryland. While the penalties for illegal possession of marijuana are not as harsh compared to other controlled substances, it is a crime nonetheless. In order to avoid a criminal record and even jail time, it is crucial to understand the boundaries of the law.

Marijuana Possession in Maryland

In most situations, Code of Maryland Criminal Law Section 5–601 makes it unlawful to possess marijuana in Maryland. There is an exception for possession of medical marijuana with a valid prescription. But in all other cases, it is illegal to possess marijuana in Maryland.

Medical Necessity of Marijuana

Maryland law recognizes that certain individuals require the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. As a result, defendants are allowed to introduce evidence that they possessed or used marijuana out of medical necessity. If the court determines that the defendant possessed or used marijuana out of medical necessity, then the court will dismiss the charges for marijuana possession.

Debilitating Medical Conditions

Only certain types of debilitating conditions qualify for medical marijuana under Maryland law, including:

  • Cachexia and similar conditions;
  • Chronic pain and muscle spasms;
  • Enduring nausea;
  • Recurring seizures; and
  • Other conditions that are resistant to conventional medicinal treatment.

Standard Penalty for Marijuana Possession in Maryland

Outside of several exceptions detailed in the following sections, possession of marijuana is normally a misdemeanor crime in Maryland. The penalties include six months in jail and $1,000 in fines.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Small Quantities

For illegal possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, the offense becomes civil and the penalties are less severe. For these civil offenses, the penalties are as follows:

  • First offense is punishable by a maximum of $100 in fines;
  • Second offense is punishable by a maximum of $250 in fines; and
  • Third offense is punishable by a maximum of $500 in fines.

Penalties for Smoking Marijuana in Public

On a related note, it is also a civil offense to smoke marijuana in a public place. The maximum punishment is a $500 fine.

Penalties for Marijuana Possession in Large Quantities

Maryland laws dictate harsh penalties for bringing marijuana into the State in large quantities. In order for these penalties to apply, the offender must have at least five kilograms of marijuana. Illegal importation of marijuana in the amount of:

  • 5 to 45 kilograms is a felony offense punishable by 10 years in jail and $10,000 in fines; and
  • 45 kilograms or more is a felony offense punishable by 25 years in jail and $50,000 in fines.

Let Us Help You Today

Whether you are facing charges for marijuana possession or other criminal offenses, it can be exceedingly useful to retain the services of a skilled criminal defense attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered in Bel Air, Maryland, have the skill and experience needed to help you fight criminal charges. If you need legal help, there is a way forward. Contact us today to start planning your defense.



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