Marijuana Possession In Maryland

The criminal charge for possession of marijuana is governed by Section 5-601((a)(1)) of the criminal law article of the Annotated Code of Maryland, and it carries possible incarceration of up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 dollars or both. However, with regard to marijuana this has now been changed so that if you are in possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less, the arresting officer has the option of issuing you a criminal citation.

Citations For Possession Of Small Amounts Of Marijuana

The criminal laws in the state of Maryland have changed — again! If you are now caught with or are in possession of 10 grams or less (about one-third of an ounce) of marijuana for the first or second time, the police will now issue you a payable citation much like a traffic ticket. It is a civil citation and no longer a criminal offense. The penalty for first-time possession of marijuana is a fine of up to $100. A second offense is also punished by issuance of a citation with a fine up to $250.

If you already have two or more previous citations for marijuana possession, that you have either paid or went to court and were found guilty of, or if you are under the age of 21, you will be required to appear in court much like a criminal trial. If you are found guilty, the judge may not only order a fine of up to $500 but may also order an assessment for drug abuse disorder and send you to a drug education program or a drug abuse treatment program. Additionally, those under 21 may have their driving privileges suspended.

Consequences Of A Drug-Related Conviction Can Be Far-Reaching

Especially for a young person, a conviction for possession of marijuana (or harder drugs) can have long-lasting and dire consequences. It is similar to a pebble being thrown into a pond and its ripple effect continuing outward. A conviction is an impediment to:

  • Employment, (especially with security clearance, licensing or bonding)
  • Admission into schools
  • Student loans
  • Any occupation (or even volunteering) involving contact with children

What The Law Says About Possession

Possession means having control over a CDS (controlled dangerous substance) like marijuana. Possession is actual or indirect, and you do not have to be the only person in possession of the controlled substance.

Additionally, in Maryland, more than one person may have possession of the drug at the same time. In determining whether a person is in direct possession of marijuana, the court will look at the surrounding circumstances such as distance between you and the substance, whether you had some possessor interest in the place (owning the automobile, for instance) where the substance was found, and whether you were participating with others in the mutual use and enjoyment of the substance.

Remember: In Maryland there is no minimum quantity of marijuana that must be possessed. 1

Thus, even a quantity too small to be used by the possessor (you), for the purpose for which possession is prohibited, constitutes possession. Even a microscopic amount of CDS-marihuana will be sufficient for the charge of possession.

Furthermore, in Maryland, there is no minimum length of time for a person to be in possession of the CDS. 2 In Maryland, constructive possession may be inferred from the surrounding circumstances, provided the evidence demonstrates that you exercised some restraining on direct influence over the CDS-marihuana possessed. 3

Get Help From An Experienced Drug Crimes Lawyer

Attorney Benvenuto has personally handled hundreds of drug possession cases over 27 years. You should go to trial with a local, experienced and proven criminal drug defense lawyer. As a local criminal drug defense attorney, he knows his way around the law and the court system in Ocean City, Maryland, and the surrounding Worcester County.

To be clear, a possession of marijuana charge in this county may be treated as a serious offense. Even if you eventually decide on another attorney, please do not try to represent yourself. Make sure you hire a qualified, competent attorney with criminal trial experience. Remember just because you have been issued a citation for marijuana, you should not take this charge lightly. Possession of marijuana is still a must appear offense, and your failure to obey the citation may result in the issuance of a warrant for your arrest. If you have been arrested or given a citation call us at once!

Tip: Never Give Police The Ammunition To Shoot You With

Do not be rude, be polite, but I advise that you not volunteer information if you do not have to. Remember: loose lips sink ships. I recommend that you avoid talking to the police if at all possible. I further advise that you should not volunteer information if you do not have to.

Never invite the police into your home, condominium unit or hotel room. You enjoy Fourth Amendment protections! If you must speak to the police, then I recommend that you step outside into the hallway with the door closed behind you to talk to them. Never allow the police to follow you in, ask them to wait outside! If the police do not have a search warrant or you do not give them permission to enter, and they have no probable cause to believe you committed a crime, or there are no exigent circumstances then they do not have a right to enter your dwelling without your permission. Remember, what police do not see, will not hurt you! But if you voluntarily allow the police to enter your dwelling, and they see marijuana or any controlled dangerous substance in plain view then you can be arrested for it.

Many people who have been arrested indicate to me that they believe their arrest should be thrown out because the police officer failed to read them their Miranda warnings. This is not the case! Miranda warnings are only triggered when two things occur. There must be custody and interrogation (questioning) before police are required to read you your Miranda warnings. Miranda warnings only go to the statements that you make to the police. Remember you have a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. You should use that right! Tell the police officer with all due respect officer, I wish to exercise my Fifth Amendment right and remain silent. Again: loose lips sink ships!

Our lead attorney has 27 years of trial experience. Experience is everything! There is no substitute for experience. He has handled hundreds of cases. Do not take our word for it, decide for yourself. Go to the Maryland Judiciary case search website to see how many cases he has handled. Type in Frank Benvenuto under attorney and view what comes up. You want an experienced attorney to represent you, don't you?

Call The Firm To Get Started With A Free Initial Consultation

Frank Benvenuto, P.A. Attorney At Law, is based in Ocean City and Berlin, Maryland, and serves clients throughout Worcester County. Schedule your free consultation by calling 410-641-2999 or by sending us an email. Outside of business hours, you can reach attorney Benvenuto directly by calling 443-783-2451.

1Caine versus State, 34 Md App.466, 367 A.2d47 Cert. denies, 280 Md 728(1977).

2 Cook versus State, 3rd Md App: 122, 134,578A.2d 283, 289(1990), cert. denies, 321 Md 502, 583 A.2d 276(1991)

3Taylor versus State, 346 Md 452, 697A.2d 462 (1997).