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Marijuana Drug Diversion Programs

Marijuana LeafMarijuana Drug Diversion Programs

Can I get into a diversion program for marijuana possession?

The State’s Attorney for each county may have a Marijuana Drug Diversion Programs. In many jurisdictions, first time offenders in possession of small amounts of marijuana are eligible to participate in a diversion program rather than have a criminal trial. This option may result in the charges being dropped if you complete the diversion program. The Prosecution has the benefit of dealing with low level drug crimes so they can handle more serious crimes.

Each county’s diversion program is different and some require classes and community service. There are usually fees associated with each program. A drug diversion program is different than Drug Court, and you must speak with a criminal defense attorney before agreeing to any offer from the State’s attorney. The prosecutor does not have to offer a defendant a diversion program and the programs themselves can change depending on the State’s Attorney’s policy for drug crimes.

Each criminal case is different and a diversion program may be one of many options available to you. You must speak with an attorney as soon as you are charged with a crime to determine your best option.  You should not discuss the case with the State or the Police until you have met with an attorney.  This site is not affiliated with any state or local government entity and this site is for information only.

The following is a non-official list of counties and their marijuana drug diversion programs as of 2014.

Does Allegany County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Allegany County does have a diversion program for first time marijuana offenders.

Does Anne Arundel County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Anne Arundel County has a marijuana drug diversion program for first time offenders.  The program requires participation in a state approved drug program. Drug Court is also available in certain circumstances.

Does Baltimore City have a diversion program for marijuana?

Baltimore City has a first time offender program for marijuana possession.  The two day program includes an information session at the courthouse followed by a day of community service picking up litter. Baltimore City has a many programs available for for drug offenses each usually requires a drug abuse evaluation, community service and periodic drug tests.

Does Baltimore County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Baltimore County has a marijuana drug diversion program for first time offenders only.  If the defendant is eligible, the State’s Attorney will refer the defendant for an evaluation and upon completion of treatment the charges may be dropped.

Does Caroline County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Caroline County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Calvert County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Calvert County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Carroll County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Carroll County does have a diversion program for first time marijuana offenders.  There are fees associated with the program.

Does Cecil County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Cecil County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Dorchester County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Dorchester County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Frederick County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Frederick County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Garrett County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Garrett County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Harford County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Harford County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Howard County have a diversion program for marijuana?

In Howard County first time minor marijuana possession charges are eligible for a diversion program.

Does Kent County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Kent County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Montgomery County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Montgomery County offers first time offenders with a minor drug offense a diversion program.  You will normally have to do some community service.

Does Prince Georges County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Prince Georges County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Queen Anne’s County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Queen Anne’s  County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does St. Mary’s County have a diversion program for marijuana?

St. Mary’s County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Somerset County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Somerset County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Talbot County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Talbot County does not have a published drug diversion program.  Speak with a criminal defense attorney to determine the options that may be available to you.

Does Washington County have a diversion program for marijuana?

In Washington County diversion is available for the first marijuana possession charge.

Does Wicomico County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Wicomico County has a diversion program rather than a trial for first time minor marijuana offenses.

Does Worcester County have a diversion program for marijuana?

Worcester County has a drug diversion program but it is usually must be requested.  The program includes a drug abuse evaluation and a recommended treatment program.  The program includes random drug screens and community service.

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Do police weigh stems and seeds of the marijuana plant?

Do the Police weigh stems and seeds of the marijuana plant?

The simple answer is yes, the police will weigh the entire contents of the bag or bundle of marijuana including stems, seeds, stalks and buds.  However, the police officer may not realize that not all of the marijuana plant is illegal.

Is the entire marijuana plant illegal?

No, the entire marijuana plant is not illegal, only certain specified parts of the plant are illegal.  It is important to know which parts of the plant are actually illegal under the definition of marijuana under Maryland law.  An inexperienced police officer may take a bag of marijuana and have it weighed without considering that some of the contents are not actually marijuana at all.

Why weight matters:

For instance, a bag or bundle containing marijuana may include mature stalks.  The police will weigh the bundle including the stalks and the police use the weight to determine which variety of the Maryland marijuana law to charge you with.  There are different penalties for possessing less than 10 grams, possession of 10 grams to 50 pounds and possession of 50 pounds or more.  If you face charges that include the weight or amount of marijuana you should have an experienced attorney investigate whether the police weighed the bag or packing material.  Whether the police or lab technician sorted through the plant matter to remove the stalks and whether the plant matter was wet or dry when it was weighed.   Usually stems on the buds and seeds are weighed and counted toward the total weight.

 Which parts of the marijuana plant are illegal?

Under the law marijuana is very specifically defined. In Maryland the definition is in the Maryland Law Criminal Law Code section 5-101(r)

In that section Marijuana means

(i) all parts of any plant of the genus Cannabis, whether or not the plant is growing;

(ii) the seeds of the plant;

(iii) the resin extracted from the plant; and

(iv) each compound, manufactured product, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the plant, its seeds, or its resin.

However, that section also excludes certain parts of the plant in that section Marijuana does not include:

(i) the mature stalks of the plant;

(ii) fiber produced from the mature stalks;

(iii) oil or cake made from the seeds of the plant;

(iv) except for resin, any other compound, manufactured product, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of the mature stalks, fiber, oil, or cake; or

(v) the sterilized seed of the plant that is incapable of germination.

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Maryland Marijuana Citation

Maryland Marijuana Citation MPL logo

Section § 4-101 of the Maryland criminal procedure code allows certain charges by citation such as possession of marijuana under 10 grams.

A police officer must charge a possession of marijuana case under 10 grams by citation instead of arrest if

1) the officer is satisfied with the defendant’s evidence of identity;
2) the officer reasonably believes that the defendant will comply with the citation;
3) the officer reasonably believes that the failure to charge on a statement of charges will not pose a threat to public safety;
4) the defendant is not subject to arrest for another criminal charge arising out of the same incident; and
5) the defendant complies with all lawful orders by the officer.

However, a police officer who has grounds to make a warrantless arrest for an offense that may be charged by citation may: issue a citation in lieu of making the arrest; or make the arrest and subsequently issue a citation in lieu of continued custody.

A marijuana citation may be charging you with a crime and a finding of guilty for a Maryland marijuana citation for possession of 10 grams of marijuana or more could subject you to up to one year and or a $1,000 fine. There are also other consequences like losing federal benefits, financial aid for education, welfare benefits and public housing. A Maryland marijuana citation could impact your career as a teacher, child care provider, law enforcement officer or any other position of trust that requires a background check. See our Marijuana FAQ page. 

If you received a Maryland marijuana citation you should contact an experienced marijuana defense lawyer to help you limit these consequences and defend yourself against these charges.

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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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Investing in the Marijuana Business and Fraud

Investing in the Business of Marijuana and the Dangers of Fraud

The Baltimore Sun is reporting that several unscrupulous financiers are setting up fake stock scams that promise good returns on the business of medical marijuana and the legalization of marijuana.  In states that have set up regulations to legally sell marijuana either medical marijuana or for recreational purposes there has certainly been a boon to the local economies.  There are strong arguments, even in Maryland and Baltimore, to legalize pot and tax it.  I have seen the economic benefits of legalization in Denver, Colorado, where empty store fronts have been turned into shops and advertising money is flowing in promoting the sale of marijuana in newspaper ads and billboards.  But investors be warned.  If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.  The Law Office of David D. Nowak, LLC advises business start ups on the legality of setting up a pot shop.  I do not foresee any federally regulated industries or companies  opening their doors to sell marijuana as it remains illegal.  Additionally, an investor or business person would be wise to consult a marijuana business attorney prior to setting up their business or investing money in marijuana investments as the money could be seized as the fruit of an illegal industry.  Also, there are a wide variety of banking laws that must be considered.  Here is the article from the  Baltimore Sun:  http://touch.baltimoresun.com/#section/822/article/p2p-77099477/

Here is the website for a Maryland Lawyer:  www.davidnowaklaw.com

 

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