Marijuana Civil Citation in Maryland FAQ
Is Marijuana Legal in Maryland?
Yes and no. It is illegal to possess 10 grams or more of marijuana in Maryland unless you have a valid prescription under Maryland’s Medical Marijuana Law. On October 1, 2014, Possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is a civil offense and is no longer criminal. Police will issue a civil citation with a payable fine.
What is the new Marijuana Law in Maryland?
The new marijuana law in Maryland decriminalizes small amounts of marijuana possession. If you are found in possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana the police can issue you a payable civil citation. The police can not arrest you for simple possession of marijuana. Instead they must issue a citation. You will have the option to pay the civil citation or request a hearing just like a traffic ticket. The civil penalty for a first offense is a fine up to $100. The penalty for a second offense is a fine of up to $250.
Possession of 10 grams or more of marijuana is an arrestable criminal offense with a maximum penalty of one year in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.
What if I receive a third citation for possession less than 10 grams of marijuana?
If you have already received two citations and either paid the citations or requested a hearing and were found “guilty” then a third marijuana citation will require you to go to court. The court will automatically set in a hearing and you will have an opportunity to have a trial similarly to a criminal case. If you are found “guilty” of a third possession citation a Judge can order you to pay a fine up to $500. In addition to a fine, and you are at least 21 years old the judge may order you to attend a drug education program, order you to have a assessment for a substance abuse disorder, and order you substance abuse treatment, if necessary.
What if I am under 21 and receive a marijuana citation?
If you receive a civil citation for possession of marijuana and you are under the age of 21 years you have the right to request a hearing and have a trial. If you are found “guilty” the court will order you to attend a drug education program approved by the department of Health and Mental Hygiene, order an assessment for substance abuse disorder and refer the person to substance abuse treatment, if necessary.
Additionally, individuals under the age of 21 may have their driving privileges suspended, therefore it is important to discuss your options with an experienced marijuana attorney before going to court to preserve your rights.
Should I just pay the citation or request a hearing?
Although it seems easy to simply pay the civil citation you should discuss your options with an attorney. Even though the citation is a “civil” citation, there could be far reaching and unanticipated consequences of admitting that you possessed marijuana. By paying the citation you are admitting guilty. You have the right to a hearing and you may have multiple defenses including whether the police lawfully searched you, your car or you home. To preserve your reputation and protect your rights you should speak with an attorney before paying the civil citation.
Marijuana Possession is still Illegal under Federal Law
Under federal law, marijuana possession in any amount and for any reason is still illegal. You must be careful to preserve your rights when interacting with law enforcement as you may be dealing with a federal agent rather than a Maryland police officer. There is no similar civil citation for marijuana possession in the federal system.