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Maryland Marijuana Laws and Penalties

Maryland Marijuana Laws and Penalties

Marijuana Possession – for possession of marijuana under 10 grams the penalty is a civil offense with a maximum penalty of $100 for a first offense. Click here for information on Civil Citations

For possession of 10 grams or more the maximum penalty is 1 year in jail or a $1000 fine, or both.

Distribution  – for large amounts of drugs that are in close proximity to baggies, scales, weapons, or large amounts of cash, you may be charged with intent to distribute marijuana. If you are charged with selling, distributing or cultivating less than 50 pounds of marijuana, the maximum penalty is 5 years in prison and a fine of $15,000. There are mandatory minimum sentences of up to 5 years for 50 pounds or more of marijuana.

Trafficking – the penalties for transporting marijuana into Maryland vary depending on the amount. Aa conviction for trafficking between 5 kilograms and up to 45 kilograms into Maryland holds a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, or both. For amounts of 45 kilograms and more the maximum prison sentence is 25 years and a $50,000 fine or both.

Maryland Enhanced Penalties: Distribution of marijuana at or near school property is subject to a penalty of up to 20 years in prison, a $20,000 fine, or both.  A repeat offender is subject to imprisonment of five (5) to forty (40) years, a fine of up to $40,000, or both.  Using a minor in the distribution of marijuana is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $20,000, or both.

Federal enhanced penalties: Use of a minor in a drug offense, distribution to a person between the age of 18 and 21, distribution on or near a school or college, or distribution of marijuana to a pregnant woman, authorizes the court to inflict twice the maximum penalty for that drug offense on a first time offender, and three times the penalty for that offense on a repeat offender.  An individual employing minor to distribute marijuana near schools or playgrounds will be subject to up to three times the allowable penalty for the underlying crime.

A first time offender distributing marijuana to persons between the age of 18 and 21 or distributing near a school or college will be subject to at least one (1) year in prison, unless the amount being distributed was five (5) grams or less.  A repeat offender distributing near a school or college will be subject to a minimum three years in prison.  If the minor used in a distribution crime is under 14 years of age, or if the offender knowingly distributes a controlled substance to a minor, the offense is subject to imprisonment of up to five (5) years, a fine of up to $50,000, or both, in addition to any other penalty incurred for the underlying crime.

Maryland Drug Possession Laws are serious offenses. There may be additional charges for possession of paraphernalia, and enhanced penalties for distribution school zones.

If you are charged with a drug possession crime call an experienced Baltimore drug possession lawyer David D. Nowak, Esq. 443-470-9071

 

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Police Made One Pot Arrest every 42 seconds in 2012

Police Made One Pot Arrest every 42 seconds in 2012

It’s hard to believe that police in the United States are making an arrest for pot possession every 42 seconds.  That means police are spending time making criminals out of usually non-violent drug offenders rather than focusing on other more serious crimes.MPL logo

In Baltimore, the pot arrest rate has not decreased and marijuana possession charges in Baltimore have actually increased.  It is hard to justify the costs to society by spending police and court resources on marijuana charges.  Not to mention the costs of criminalizing millions in our society and hampering their ability to get student loans, government assistance, and jobs with security clearances.

According to US News and World Report Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011. “Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system,” said LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, a former Maryland policeman, in a statement. “Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan. Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it.”

I was not surprised by this article as the documentary  The House I Live In  explores the societal costs of enforcing the drug war, and investigates the intrenched interests that keep the drug war alive such as the private prison industry.   Everyone should watch this eye opening expose on our Drug War and Drug warriors. In Maryland, legislation to legalize marijuana passed in the Senate, but did not pass the House.  Even though Maryland is liberal in many ways, we still have a long way to go until a person in Baltimore can use legal marijuana and not have to call a criminal defense drug lawyer for a pot arrest.

David D. Nowak, Esq.

 

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Feds to Tackle Marijuana Banking Problems

Feds to Tackle Marijuana Banking Problems

It looks like the federal government is one step closer to allowing legal marijuana businesses to use the banks. The problem with marijuana businesses and banks is that they are both afraid the feds will seize the assets as part of a criminal investigation.  It appears the federal government is trying to work on banking regulations that will allow legal pot businesses to use bank accounts like any other business.  Maybe this will help bring pot entrepreneurs to Maryland as prohibition slowly comes to and end.  From the Denver Post:

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Marijuana Cultivation Grow Defense Lawyer

Marijuana Cultivation Grow Defense Lawyer David Nowak, Esq.

As a Baltimore marijuana defense lawyer I have received many calls about legalization of marijuana.  Here is a brief explanation of Maryland’s new marijuana law.

Maryland’s medical marijuana law will go into effect on October 1, 2013 and many people in Baltimore are already asking when they can legally possess pot and when they can start growing marijuana.

The answer for Maryland residents is not good news.  The Maryland medical marihuana law essentially creates a commission to regulate medical marijuana through a limited and select group of academic hospitals that fit very strict criteria.  Baltimore residents who possess marijuana even for medicinal purposes still face arrest.  Marylanders that grow and cultivate marijuana also still face arrest.

In fact, unless you are enrolled in an approved program a patient who possess marijuana may still be arrested.  The academic medical centers that will be administering the program may be in legal trouble unless they receive their marijuana from the Federal Government or a licensed medical marijuana grower in Maryland.    Unless you are a licensed grower you too will be subjected to criminal prosecution in Maryland.

Unlike our sister states of Colorado and California, entrepreneurs interested in setting up grows and direct sales to patients will be unable to work in Maryland.  The State of Maryland has probably missed a great opportunity to foster a rapidly growing industry in medicinal marijuana on the east coast.  The Medical Marijuana Commission referenced in the law is in the process of being created and it is likely that they will publish regulations for the medicinal marijuana programs in Maryland in a year or two.  Until then, patients, academic institutions, entrepreneurs and cultivators still face criminal prosecution.

Summary:

In Maryland, the growing and cultivating of medical marijuana will be strictly regulated by a Commission and limited to a few academic medical intuitions.  Here is the actual law:

Section 13–3108 of the Health Article.

(A) (1) THE COMMISSION SHALL LICENSE MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROWERS TO OPERATE IN THE STATE TO PROVIDE MARIJUANA TO 7 PROGRAMS APPROVED FOR OPERATION UNDER THIS SUBTITLE.

(2) THE COMMISSION MAY LICENSE NO MORE THAN FIVE 9 MEDICAL MARIJUANA GROWERS FOR EACH APPROVED PROGRAM.

(B) AN ENTITY LICENSED TO GROW MARIJUANA UNDER THIS SECTION MAY PROVIDE MARIJUANA ONLY TO AN ACADEMIC MEDICAL CENTER APPROVED TO OPERATE A PROGRAM UNDER THIS SUBTITLE.

(C) THE COMMISSION SHALL ESTABLISH REQUIREMENTS FOR SECURITY AND THE MANUFACTURING PROCESS THAT A GROWER MUST MEET IN ORDER TO OBTAIN A LICENSE UNDER THIS SECTION, INCLUDING A REQUIREMENT FOR A PRODUCT–TRACKING SYSTEM.

(D) THE COMMISSION MAY INSPECT GROWERS LICENSED UNDER THIS SECTION TO ENSURE COMPLIANCE WITH THIS SECTION.

(E) THE COMMISSION MAY IMPOSE PENALTIES OR RESCIND THE LICENSE OF A GROWER THAT DOES NOT MEET THE STANDARDS FOR LICENSURE SET BY THE COMMISSION

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Baltimore prosecutors lighten up on marijuana possession

An interesting article in the Baltimore Sun titled Baltimore prosecutors lighten up on marijuana possession

MPLand quoting Baltimore marijuana defense lawyer David D. Nowak

describes the marijuana climate in Maryland including from the diversion programs in Baltimore City for first time offenders to strict penalties for small amounts of marijuana in other counties such as Harford County.  In Baltimore marijuana possession remains a crime just like in the rest of Maryland although prosecutors seems to be using their discretion when pursuing these cases.

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Guidelines for Federal Prosecution of State Pot Laws

In a memo to US Attorneys the Department of Justice gave eight guidelines for federal prosecution of state pot laws.  The effect is that states that have legalized marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes can now create and enforce regulations for the use and distribution of marijuana.  From the memo:

“The Department’s guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests. A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice.”

Eight Guidelines for Federal Prosecutors

The memo  outlines eight guidelines for federal prosecutors when enforcing federal marijuana laws. The Department of Justice will still prosecute individuals or entities to prevent:

  • the distribution of marijuana to minors;
  • revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs and cartels;
  • the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states;
  • state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity;
  • violence and the use of firearms in the cultivation and distribution of marijuana
  • drugged driving and the exacerbation of other adverse public health consequences associated with marijuana use;
  • growing of marijuana on public lands and the attendant public safety and environmental dangers posed by marijuana production on public lands;
  • preventing marijuana possession or use on federal property.

Summary:  Marijuana is still illegal as far as the feds are concerned.

Federal marijuana laws remain in place and prosecutors now have guidelines to use when considering whether to prosecute a person federally that complies with state pot laws..  Although state regulators may breath a sigh of relief when creating regulations for legal marijuana everyone should realize that these are guidelines can are not mandatory and can change at a whim.  It will be especially interesting to see if the next US Attorney General, after Eric Holder, continues this program.   In the meantime, make sure you consult an attorney if you are unclear on the law.  In Maryland you can call Baltimore area pot lawyer David D. Nowak.

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