Although Maryland has decriminalized possession of cannabis, other drug offenses still carry significant penalties. Before facing a court date for drug possession, an accused individual should understand the potential legal consequences.
Review the laws that govern the possession of controlled substances in Maryland.
While some states have different possession penalties for different substances, controlled substance possession is a single misdemeanor offense in Maryland. Depending on the amount of the substance and other extenuating circumstances, a convicted person could receive a fine of up to $25,000 and up to four years in prison. These penalties also apply to a conviction for possession of drug paraphernalia such as needles, with the exception of cannabis-related items.
Drugs do not have to be on the person’s body for a possession charge. They can also be in his or her bag, home or vehicle.
Possession with intent to distribute
When a possession charge exceeds a certain amount, it becomes possession with intent to distribute. Maryland imposes up to 20 years in prison for possession of heroin, cocaine, LSD, PCP and other Schedule I substances with intent to distribute. Fines range from $15,000 to $25,000. State law also establishes a mandatory minimum fine of five years in prison for possession of more than:
- 448 g methamphetamine or powder cocaine
- 16 oz PCP
- 1,000 units LSD
- 28 g heroin or opiates
- 50 g crack cocaine
This crime also carries fines of up to $100,000.
Some offenders facing Maryland drug possession charges may qualify for probation instead of jail time. For example, some counties have drug court programs for individuals seeking help to recover from substance use disorder.