This November, Maryland legislators will give you, the public, the chance to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana use. If approved, measures will likely come into place in July 2023, but only for those over 21.
Until then, marijuana use remains illegal except for those with the necessary medical permission. However, recreational users will not face criminal charges if in possession of less than 10 grams unless using it in a public place, in which case they could be fined up to $500.
What happens if you are caught with more?
It then comes down to what the police believe your intentions were and how much you had. You could face charges under one of three categories: personal use, intent to distribute or trafficking.
- Personal use: The maximum for possessing under 50 lbs is one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. That rises to a five-year mandatory sentence and a fine of up to $100,000 for more than that.
- Intent to distribute: If it is under 50 lbs, the most you could face is five years in jail and a $15,000 fine. Five years becomes the mandatory sentence for over 50 lbs, but if they decide you are a kingpin of the operation, you will get between 20 and 40 years. The maximum fine, in this case, would be $1 million.
- Trafficking: Penalties range from up to 10 years in jail for up to 45 kg to 25 years in jail for more. Fines could range from $10,000 to $50,000.
Clearly, there is a massive variation in the potential penalties you could face, but all are serious. Getting legal help to examine all drug crime defense options will be crucial.