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Marijuana Civil Citation

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.

 

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D.C. marijuana decriminalization starts today

At 12.01 a.m. July 17, 2014, Washington D.C.’s historic decriminalization bill went into effect. The law prevents police from giving more than a $25 ticket for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

Maryland’s historic decriminalization bill goes into effect on October 1, 2014, but only applies to possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Ten grams is about one third of an ounce.  D.C. residents may be surprised if they are stopped by police in Maryland and discover they are facing one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for carrying more than 10 grams of marijuana into Maryland.

Imagine being on the Metro and discovering that you crossed over into Maryland (underground) where your ounce of weed is going to result in jail time but was just a civil citation in D.C.  That is a nightmare scenario.

This isn’t the end of the drug war, but it’s an amazing start.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/07/17/dc-marijuana-law/12770301/

 

 

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Expungement Maryland

Expungement Maryland

Having a criminal record can be a nightmare.  It can keep you from getting jobs, prevent you from receiving government services, prevent you from entering certain professions and a criminal record can hurt your reputation in your community.  Not to mention, you may not want your tech savvy children pulling up your criminal record on the internet to use against you!

Thankfully an Expungement in Maryland is a relatively easy process, if you are eligible.  Nearly every week a client will call me frantic because an old drinking citation or marijuana charge was found during a background check for a new job.  Sometimes, they were not hired because of their record.  Many people believe that old cases “fall off” your record or they think their public defender or defense attorney automatically expunged their record, but the fact is, if you did not fill out Maryland Expungement forms and paid the fee, your case is probably still on your record.  Even if the case was dismissed, you were found “not guilty”, it was stetted or you received a probation before judgment (PBJ), the record of you arrest, charges and court record most likely remain in the system.

Do you know if you have a criminal record? Do you know if that old charge was expunged?  Are you certain?

The Law Office of David D. Nowak, LLC can run a background check on you and determine whether or not an old charge is still on your record.  We offer comprehensive background checks and expungement services at low flat rates and we do all the work.  If you would like us to look into your criminal record and see if you are eligible, please contact us.

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New Maryland Marijuana Laws

New Maryland Marijuana Laws – 2 Reasons to Celebrate, Many Reasons to be Cautious.  MPL logo

The Maryland Legislature passed two landmark marijuana laws during the 2014 session.  If the bills are signed by the governor as expected, Maryland’s marijuana laws will radically change.

Decriminalization

The decriminalization bill makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana by adults a civil offense much like a traffic ticket.   There is a system of increasing penalities for subsequennt offenders and the possibility of a court appearance if you have multiple citations.  There are provisions that keep the records of the citations off the Case Search Website, so the Legislature addressed the negative consequences of having a pot charge on your “record.”

Medical Marijuana

The legislature revised the old medical marijuana bill to allow for a dispersed production and distribution system without reliance on academic hospitals to get the program going.  That means farms and dispensaries will be coming to Maryland.  We can expect the Medical Marijuana Commission to publish regulations for medical marijuana in the fall of 2014.  The law allows 15 growers and dispensaries to produce and distribute medical marijuana.

Take Warning

Marylanders shouldn’t light up just yet, the bills will not become law until the Governor signs them, and then only after the effective date later this year.  Check back for more details as I review the bills.

I predict major issues with the law going forward.  The legislature failed to address the prohibition of paraphernalia that prohibits possession of drug paraphernalia and makes it a crime to posses, advertise and even transfer paraphernalia.  Also, possession over 10 grams is still a crime with a punishment of one year incarceration and/or a $1,000 fine.  I suspect we will see an increase in these charges as law enforcement weighs plant material with packaging material to get over the 10 gram threshold to make possession a crime.  The 10 gram threshold is rather low.  10 grams is about 10 packets of sweet-and-low.  Other states with decriminalization laws have set the amount at under 30 grams, so even possession a small amount (10.1 grams) in Maryland will land you in court facing jail time.  I foresee that the battle is not over yet, and everyone should expect law enforcement to strictly enforce the existing marijuana laws until the eve the law goes into effect.   Federal Law still prohibits the possession and use of marijuana for any reason.   So be aware if you are on federal property especially national forests and parks.

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D.C. Council Votes to Partially Decriminalize Marijuana

The D.C. Council voted today to partially decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.  The bill which was voted on today will likely be approved by the mayor.  That means that just across the border from Maryland individuals possessing less than an ounce of marijuana will face a civil citation rather than arrest.  The D.C. Council wisely approved this bill as a civil rights measure recognizing the harm an arrest record can have on a defendant.

Here is the article.

Washington Post Article

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Four Reasons why Maryland needs a new Medical Marijuana Law

Four Reasons why Maryland needs a new Medical Marijuana Law

In 2013, Maryland passed a Medical Marijuana bill that created a commission to establish regulations for medical marijuana.  Nearly everyone agrees that the bill was a loser before it left the gate.  A year later, and the Maryland Medical Marijuana Commission admits it will not have regulations ready until 2015.

In 2014, the Maryland legislature is revisiting its failed Medical Marijuana law.  In this new attempt to allow Marylanders to possess and use marijuana for medical condition, our law makers are wisely proposing a Medical Marijuana policy on successful programs from other states like California and Oregon.

It is likely that this new legislation will do away with the failed Institutional model currently in place and substitute it for a more dispersed doctor-patient-dispensary-grower model.  The current policy only allows teaching hospitals to operate MMJ programs.

Four Reasons why Maryland Needs a new Medical Marijuana Law

A new medical marijuana law will help patients, doctors, farmers and entrepreneurs.

  1. Doctors can provide patients with additional treatment options.
  2. Patients can safely and legally access their medicine.
  3. Farmers can grow a new crop and use either farm land or indoor industrial spaces to grow America’s number one cash crop.
  4. Entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to invest money in buildings, marketing, supplies, and equipment to provide MMJ to patients with prescriptions. The medical marijuana business is booming in other states and there is money to be made. That means JOBS are coming!

Unfortunately the bill has not yet passed, and there may be opposition in the legislature.   The final hurdle is whether the Governor agrees the time is right to move forward with a more sensible medical marijuana policy.  We will wait to see, but many Marylanders are excited by these future prospects!

Here’s a recent article from the Baltimore Sun on the issue:

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/politics/bs-md-medical-marijuana-vow-20140228,0,2962927.story

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Marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol

President Obama said in an interview published on January 19, 2014 that marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol.  Mr. Obama, the top drug enforcement officer in the country, qualified his answer by saying that he would not encourage his children to use marijuana.  Marijuana is currently classified as a schedule I drug.  That means it is in the same category as heroin, crack-cocaine and a litany of other “serious drugs.”

It appears that Mr. Obama was stating the obvious as a  majority of Americans already believe marijuana should be legal.  In the criminal justice system it the criminal penalties and stigma of being a criminal that is worse than the drug itself.   Most people in the criminal justice system know the problems alcohol causes, but it is rare to find an assault, domestic violence incident, robbery or over-dose related to simply using marijuana.  So finally, the President of the United States of America has essentially admitted that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.   So why do we continue to spend so many law enforcement dollars prosecuting marijuana crimes?

How long will we have to wait until the US Government starts treating marijuana like alcohol, instead of like heroin, crack, and other schedule I narcotics?

Unfortunately, our current policy remains and marijuana crimes are strictly enforced.  It is even more unfortunate that if you use marijuana you can become president, but if you are charged and convicted of  even possessing  marijuana your whole life can be ruined and you can be thrown in jail.

Here’s a link to the article.

http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2014/01/19/obama-says-marijuana-no-more-dangerous-than-alcohol/comment-page-44/

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Marijuana Control Act of 2014

The Maryland general assembly is debating a marijuana legalization and regulation bill during the 2014 session.  A similar bill was introduced during the legislative session last year.  It won in the Senate but not the House. Unfortunately, the legalization bill is unlikely to pass due to stiff opposition in the House of Delegates and Governor O’Malley indicating that he would not support the measure to legalize and tax marijuana.

Ironically, the states that are sending teams to the Superbowl, Colorado and Washington have both ended prohibition of marijuana and have decided to allow for the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana.  In Denver, Colorado and Seattle, Washington, marijuana users no longer face time in jail, fines or the consequences of losing student loan aid because of marijuana.

So why isn’t Maryland joining Colorado and Washington in ending these injustices?  Unfortunately, that answer is too complicated to answer here.  But it is important to note, that in Washington and Colorado the vote to legalize marijuana was put on the ballots and won.  Maryland does not have the same system to put bills directly on the ballot, so we have a slow and a sometimes surprisingly conservative legislative process that needs time and political courage to move legalization forward.

Here is the article discussing the Marijuana Control Act of 2014.

http://somd.com/news/headlines/2014/17671.shtml

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Is Marijuana Legal Yet?

Is Marijuana Legal Yet?

As of January 2014 – the answer is absolutely not.

Many people seem to be confused as to the status of marijuana in Maryland.  Many believe that police no longer arrest people for simple possession of marijuana.  Many people also wrongly believe that if you receive a citation for possession of marijuana you can either pay a fine like a traffic ticket or choose to go to court. Unfortunately, many of these people are flat wrong and these misconceptions have created confusion about the status of marijuana in Maryland.

Possession of any amount of marijuana in Maryland is still a serious offense.

As of the posting of this blog, possession of marijuana is still illegal in Maryland.  If you are in possession of less than 10 grams of Marijuana the police may give you a citation rather than arrest you.  The citation is not a payable citation, like a traffic ticket.  It is a summons that requires you to appear before a judge and you could face the possibility of 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine.  If you have more marijuana you will most likely be arrested and you face the possibility of 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

In any event, if you have been charged or given a citation for a marijuana related offense you need to contact an attorney for legal advice.

 

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Drug Paraphernalia Charge

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image424769What does a drug paraphernalia charge mean? If you have been charged with possession of Drug Paraphernalia charge you are probably asking how everyday objects are considered drug paraphernalia under the law.  The question is often:

Is a sandwich bag paraphernalia? Is a bong paraphernalia?  Is a pipe paraphernalia? Are rolling papers paraphernalia? Are cigarillo wrappers paraphernalia? Is a lighter paraphernalia? Is an apple paraphernalia?  Is a syringe paraphernalia?  Is a scale paraphernalia? Is tin foil paraphernalia?

In Maryland, the law is rather complicated.  The Jury or Judge will need to consider the factors in Section 5-619 of the Maryland Criminal Code.  There is not a clear cut answer for when an object is paraphernalia but the fact finder (judge or jury) is tasked with using logic and a list of factors to find that an object is paraphernalia.

If you receive a drug paraphernalia charge you could face serious consequences including fines.  If this is your second drug paraphernalia charge you could face jail time and/or fines.  If you are charged with a crime, you must speak with a criminal defense attorney regarding your case.  This blog is for legal information only and should not be considered legal advice.

Here’s the statute as of 2013 word for word.

Section 5-619 Drug paraphernalia

(a) Factors to determine drug paraphernalia. — To determine whether an object is drug paraphernalia, a court shall consider, among other logically relevant factors:

(1) any statement by an owner or a person in control of the object concerning its use;

(2) any prior conviction of an owner or a person in control of the object under a State or federal law relating to a controlled dangerous substance;

(3) the proximity of the object, in time and space, to a direct violation of this section or to a controlled dangerous substance;

(4) a residue of a controlled dangerous substance on the object;

(5) direct or circumstantial evidence of the intent of an owner or a person in control of the object to deliver it to another who, the owner or the person knows or should reasonably know, intends to use the object to facilitate a violation of this section;

(6) any instructions, oral or written, provided with the object concerning its use;

(7) any descriptive materials accompanying the object that explain or depict its use;

(8) national and local advertising concerning use of the object;

(9) the manner in which the object is displayed for sale;

(10) whether the owner or a person in control of the object is a licensed distributor or dealer of tobacco products or other legitimate supplier of related items to the community;

(11) direct or circumstantial evidence of the ratio of sales of the object to the total sales of the business enterprise;

(12) the existence and scope of legitimate uses for the object in the community; and

(13) expert testimony concerning use of the object.

(b) Finding of intention or design — Innocence of owner not dispositive. — The innocence of an owner or a person in control of the object as to a direct violation of this section does not prevent a finding that the object is intended for use or designed for use as drug paraphernalia.

(c) Use or possession with intent to use; penalty; medical necessity. —

(1) Unless authorized under this title, a person may not use or possess with intent to use drug paraphernalia to:

(i) plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, or conceal a controlled dangerous substance; or

(ii) inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance.

(2) A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to:

(i) for a first violation, a fine not exceeding $ 500; and

(ii) for each subsequent violation, imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $ 2,000 or both.

(3) A person who is convicted of violating this subsection for the first time and who previously has been convicted of violating subsection (d)(4) of this section is subject to the penalty specified under paragraph (2)(ii) of this subsection.

(4) (i) 1. In this paragraph the following words have the meanings indicated.

2. “Bona fide physician-patient relationship” means a relationship in which the physician has ongoing responsibility for the assessment, care, and treatment of a patient’s medical condition.

3. “Caregiver” means an individual designated by a patient with a debilitating medical condition to provide physical or medical assistance to the patient, including assisting with the medical use of marijuana, who:

A. is a resident of the State;

B. is at least 21 years old;

C. is an immediate family member, a spouse, or a domestic partner of the patient;

D. has not been convicted of a crime of violence as defined in § 14-101 of this article;

E. has not been convicted of a violation of a State or federal controlled dangerous substances law;

F. has not been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude;

G. has been designated as caregiver by the patient in writing that has been placed in the patient’s medical record prior to arrest;

H. is the only individual designated by the patient to serve as caregiver; and

I. is not serving as caregiver for any other patient.

4. “Debilitating medical condition” means a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition or the treatment of a chronic or debilitating disease or medical condition that produces one or more of the following, as documented by a physician with whom the patient has a bona fide physician-patient relationship:

A. cachexia or wasting syndrome;

B. severe or chronic pain;

C. severe nausea;

D. seizures;

E. severe and persistent muscle spasms; or

F. any other condition that is severe and resistant to conventional medicine.

(ii) 1. In a prosecution under this subsection involving drug paraphernalia related to marijuana, the defendant may introduce and the court shall consider as a mitigating factor any evidence of medical necessity.

2. Notwithstanding paragraph (2) of this subsection, if the court finds that the person used or possessed drug paraphernalia related to marijuana because of medical necessity, on conviction of a violation of this subsection, the maximum penalty that the court may impose on the person is a fine not exceeding $ 100.

(iii) 1. In a prosecution under this subsection involving drug paraphernalia related to marijuana, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant used or possessed drug paraphernalia related to marijuana because:

A. the defendant has a debilitating medical condition that has been diagnosed by a physician with whom the defendant has a bona fide physician-patient relationship;

B. the debilitating medical condition is severe and resistant to conventional medicine; and

C. marijuana is likely to provide the defendant with therapeutic or palliative relief from the debilitating medical condition.

2. A. In a prosecution under this subsection involving drug paraphernalia related to marijuana, it is an affirmative defense that the defendant possessed drug paraphernalia related to marijuana because the drug paraphernalia related to marijuana was intended for medical use by an individual with a debilitating medical condition for whom the defendant is a caregiver.

B. A defendant may not assert the affirmative defense under this subsubparagraph unless the defendant notifies the State’s Attorney of the defendant’s intention to assert the affirmative defense and provides the State’s Attorney with all documentation in support of the affirmative defense in accordance with the rules of discovery provided in Maryland Rules 4-262 and 4-263.

3. an affirmative defense under this subparagraph may not be used if the defendant was:

A. using marijuana in a public place or assisting the individual for whom the defendant is a caregiver in using the marijuana in a public place; or

B. in possession of more than 1 ounce of marijuana.

(d) Delivery or sale; penalty. —

(1) Unless authorized under this title, a person may not deliver or sell, or manufacture or possess with intent to deliver or sell, drug paraphernalia, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that the drug paraphernalia will be used to:

(i) plant, propagate, cultivate, grow, harvest, manufacture, compound, convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze, pack, repack, store, contain, or conceal a controlled dangerous substance; or

(ii) inject, ingest, inhale, or otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled dangerous substance.

(2) A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to:

(i) for a first violation, a fine not exceeding $ 500; and

(ii) for each subsequent violation, imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $ 2,000 or both.

(3) A person who is convicted of violating this subsection for the first time and who previously has been convicted of violating paragraph (4) of this subsection is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $ 2,000 or both.

(4) If a person who is at least 18 years old violates paragraph (1) of this subsection by delivering drug paraphernalia to a minor who is at least 3 years younger than the person, the person is guilty of a separate misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 8 years or a fine not exceeding $ 15,000 or both.

(e) Advertising; penalty. —

(1) A person may not advertise in a newspaper, magazine, handbill, poster, sign, mailing, or other writing or publication, or by sound truck, knowing, or under circumstances where one reasonably should know, that the purpose of the advertisement, wholly or partly, is to promote the sale or delivery of drug paraphernalia.

(2) A person who violates this subsection is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to:

(i) for a first violation, a fine not exceeding $ 500; and

(ii) for each subsequent violation, imprisonment not exceeding 2 years or a fine not exceeding $ 2,000 or both.

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