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What are the penalties for marijuana offenses in DC and Maryland?

While the national debate rages on as to whether marijuana should be legalized or not, it is easy to forget that on a federal level the substance is still considered illegal. Many states, and even counties, are changing their laws to decriminalize marijuana. So let's talk about some of the offenses that are related to marijuana, and how decriminalization is impacting the law.

To that last point, it is important to realize that "decriminalization" and "legalization" are two completely different concepts. If something is legalized, well, there's no punishment for possessing it or selling it. However, when something is decriminalized, there are still punishments for possessing or selling it in certain quantities. It's just that those punishments are reduced from what they previously were.

Now, on to some laws and offenses in relation to marijuana. In the District of Columbia, the rules are fairly straightforward. Possession of marijuana is a misdemeanor and can be met with a $1,000 fine or jail time. The consequences double for a subsequent offense. It's also a crime to sell the substance, which can result in jail time or a $10,000 fine, with increasing penalties for subsequent offenses or offenses that occur in designated drug-free zones or that involve minors.

In Maryland, the rules are more complicated. Possession has two classes, the first being possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. This leads to a fine, which increases with every offense. If you possess more than 10 grams of marijuana, the penalties increase and jail time is possible. Subsequent offenses could lead to other punishments, such as drug treatment and assessment.

Selling the drug has serious consequences. It is considered a felony, and the possibility of extensive jail time and major fines is distinct.

Source: FindLaw, "District of Columbia Marijuana Laws," Accessed Dec. 15, 2014

Source: FindLaw, "Maryland Marijuana Laws," Accessed Dec. 15, 2014

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