Unlawful Possession Drug Crimes Under Maryland Law
Outside of exceptions for approved medical use, Maryland features a general prohibition on the possession of dangerous or addictive drugs. Referred to legally as controlled substances, any person who possesses drugs unlawfully can face serious penalties under Maryland law, though the penalties do fluctuate based on the type of substance and the number of previous offenses, if any.
Maryland Laws Against Unlawful Possession of a Controlled
Maryland Code of Criminal Law Section 5-601 establishes the laws against possession of a controlled substance. Under this section, it is lawful to possess a controlled substance, but only if obtained directly from an authorized provider acting in their course of professional practice.
In just about every other case, it is unlawful to possess or administer a controlled substance under Maryland law. In addition, it is illegal to obtain or procure — or attempt to obtain or procure — any controlled substance by:
- Deceit, fraud, misrepresentation, or subterfuge;
- Altering or counterfeiting a prescription or written order;
- Concealing a material fact;
- Using a false name or address;
- Misrepresenting oneself as a distributor, manufacturer, or authorized provider; or
- Making, issuing, or presenting a false or counterfeit prescription or written order.
Maryland Penalties for Unlawful Possession of a Controlled Substance
Section 5-601 also provides the penalties for unlawful possession of a controlled substance. It is important to note that there are multiple punishment schemes for this offense.
Generally speaking, unlawful possession of a controlled substance is a misdemeanor and punishable as follows:
- First Violation — The offender can face a maximum penalty of 12 months in prison and $5,000 in criminal fines;
- Second or Third Violation — The offender can face a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison and $5,000 in criminal fines; or
- Fourth or Subsequent Violation — The offender can face a maximum penalty of 24 months in prison and $5,000 in criminal fines.
That being said, the penalties are slightly different for cannabis. In these cases, the offender will usually face misdemeanor charges and a maximum punishment of six months in prison and $1,000 in criminal fines.
If the offense involved unlawful possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis, however, the charges and penalties are as follows:
- First Violation — Civil offense punishable by a maximum of $100 in criminal fines;
- Second Violation — Civil offense punishable by a maximum of $250 in criminal fines; or
- Third or Subsequent Violation — Civil offense punishable by a maximum of $500 in criminal fines.
In addition to the fines above for possession of less than 10 grams of cannabis, Maryland also requires the offender to attend a drug education program and, if necessary, substance abuse treatment.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you have legal questions about drug crimes or other offenses under Maryland law, it can be absolutely game-changing to schedule a consultation with an experienced Bel Air drug crimes attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in criminal and family law, including drug crimes. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.