Maryland Drug Possession Laws

All federal and state codes prohibit the possession of certain drugs, whether it's marijuana, methamphetamine, or even the unlawful possession of prescription medication. States also have enhanced charges for those in possession of illicit drugs with the intent to distribute (sell). But while the federal Controlled Substances Act still lists marijuana in the same category as so-called "hard" drugs such as heroin, many states have decriminalized or even legalized its possession (however, tension between state and federal law remains).

Maryland has decriminalized the possession of marijuana, making possession of small amounts (less than 10 grams) a civil offense on par with a moving violation. Possession of other drugs can lead to severe penalties, depending on the amounts and whether intent to distribute is established.

Maryland Drug Possession Laws at a Glance

Statutes
  • Md. Ann. Code § 5-601 (possession of drugs in general)
  • Md. Ann. Code § 5-602 (possession of drugs with intent to distribute)
  • Md. Ann. Code § 5-619 (possession of drug paraphernalia)
Statutory Definition of the Offense

A person may not:

1. Possess or administer to another a controlled dangerous substance, unless obtained directly or by prescription or order from an authorized provider acting in the course of professional practice; or

2. Obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled dangerous substance, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a controlled dangerous substance by:

  1. Fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge;
  2. The counterfeiting or alteration of a prescription or a written order;
  3. The concealment of a material fact;
  4. The use of a false name or address;
  5. Falsely assuming the title of or representing to be a manufacturer, distributor, or authorized provider; or
  6. Making, issuing, or presenting a false or counterfeit prescription or written order.
Drug Possession Penalties (excluding marijuana)

Possession of any controlled substances besides marijuana (any amount) is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. The actual charge and penalties upon conviction are generally based on the amount of a given drug and the defendant's criminal record.

Note: Possession of excessive amounts, suggesting the intent to distribute, may be charged as a felony (see below).

Possession with Intent to Distribute

General sentencing guidelines:

  • Schedule I and II (heroin, cocaine, etc.) - Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $25,000.
  • LSD, PCP, and other hallucinogenics - Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $20,000.
  • Drugs other than Schedule I or II substances - Up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $15,000

Mandatory minimum five-year prison sentence and a fine of up to $100,000 for possession of the following amounts (§ 5-612):

  • Marijuana - 50 lbs.
  • Cocaine - 448 g
  • Crack cocaine - 50 g
  • Opium, morphine, heroin, etc. - 28 g
  • LSD - 1,000 dosage units
  • PCP - 16 oz.
  • Methamphetamine - 448 g
Marijuana Possession Penalties
  • Less than 10 g - Civil offense; $100 fine (2nd offense: $250 fine; 3rd or subsequent offense: $500 fine).
  • 10 g or more (but less than 50 lbs.) - Misdemeanor; up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $1,000.
  • 50 lbs. or more - Felony; up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

Note: Maryland recognizes the legitimate and lawful use of marijuana for medical purposes. Patients with a valid doctor's recommendation are required to register with the state.

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
  • Possession of marijuana paraphernalia (pipes, bongs, etc.) with intent to use or actual use: Up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $500.
  • Possession of non-marijuana drug paraphernalia (syringes, etc.) with intent to use or actual use: Up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Note: State laws are always subject to change either through the courts, the passage of new legislation, or through other means. Be sure you contact a Maryland drug crimes attorney or health care attorney, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Maryland Drug Possession Laws: Related Resources

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