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New Possession of Marihuana/Marijuana Laws in Maryland effective October 1, 2012

New Possession of Marijuana Laws in Maryland effective October 1, 2012.

Effective October 1, 2012, if you are convicted of possession of marijuana in Maryland you could be facing a lesser penalty but that may also have a big change in your ability to pray a jury trial.

If you've been charged with possession of marijuana in Maryland and you need to hire an attorney, contact our office as soon after the arrest to start investigating you case and defending your rights and reputation. Contact the office 24/7 at 410-288-2900.

It is still illegal in Maryland to possess marijuana, however, depending on the amount of marijuana you are arrested with could affect the amount of time you can spend in jail.  If you are convicted of CDS: Possession – Marijuana and you are found to have less than 10 grams then you are subject to imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or a fine not exceeding $500.00 or both.  The State still has the ability to charge you with the original possession statute and you could be facing a maximum of 1 year and $1000.00 or both.  The new law does not change the classification of marijuana making it a misdemeanor.

So what does this mean to Defendants and why did the Maryland Legislature select 90 days maximum sentence?

In Maryland, you only have a right to a Jury trial from the District Court (pray a jury trial) if one of the crimes you are charged with subjects the Defendant to a penalty of more than 90 days. That means if you are charged with marijuana and the officer found less than 10 grams then you would not have a right to a jury trial and you would have to resolve your case in the District Court where you are charged.  This only applies if the officer charges you with the language indicating that is was less than 10 grams.  If you are found guilty then you would have a right to file an appeal and then take the case to the Circuit Court for the County in which you were convicted and at that point you could elect to have a jury trial.

Why did the Maryland Legislature elect to reduce the maximum penalty for marijuana?

Some may argue that the legislature is taking a more laid back approach to possession of marijuana in Maryland.  Yet it is believed that the main reason for the change in the law is to reduce the number of cases that are transferred to the Circuit Court for disposition or trial.  It does appear that legislators, Judges, and State's Attorneys are taking a less strict stance on possession of marijuana in Maryland.  That means they would rather deal with more cases in the District Courts and not clog up the dockets of the Circuit Courts in Maryland with minor possession charges.

The new law also requires that the Court allow any Defendant convicted of possession of marijuana in Maryland to file an appeal and the Court is required to stay the sentence pending the appeal.  As an example, if you are convicted of possession of marijuana, less than 10 grams, and the Judge imposes a sentence of jail, then you can file an appeal within 30 days and the Court is required to stay or allow you to not have to serve that sentence pending the appeal to the Circuit Court.  If you are granted a probation before judgment (PBJ) then you have to waive your right to an appeal.

The good news appears from the language of the Statute that the State's Attorney's office is required to specifically charge the Defendant with the 90 days offense.  That means the State must charge this specific language:

 

**CDS: POSSESSION –MARIHUANA L/T 10 GRAMS ** 

…did possess a controlled dangerous substance of schedule I, to wit: Marihuana, in the amount less than 10 grams.

NOTE: Unless specifically charged by the State, the use or possession of less than 10 grams of marihuana under CR 5-601 (c)(2)(II)(1) may not be considered a lesser included crime of any other crime.

 

The text of the new Statute can be found below (the new 10 gram penalty section is in bold text):

 

Md. CRIMINAL LAW Code Ann. § 5-601  (2012)

§ 5-601. Possessing or administering controlled dangerous substance 
   (a) In general. — Except as otherwise provided in this title, a person may not:
   (1) possess or administer to another a controlled dangerous substance, unless obtained directly or by prescription or order from an authorized provider acting in the course of professional practice; or
   (2) obtain or attempt to obtain a controlled dangerous substance, or procure or attempt to procure the administration of a controlled dangerous substance by:
      (i) fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, or subterfuge;
      (ii) the counterfeiting or alteration of a prescription or a written order;
      (iii) the concealment of a material fact;
      (iv) the use of a false name or address;
      (v) falsely assuming the title of or representing to be a manufacturer, distributor, or authorized provider; or
      (vi) making, issuing, or presenting a false or counterfeit prescription or written order.
(b) Information not privileged. — Information that is communicated to a physician in an effort to obtain a controlled dangerous substance in violation of this section is not a privileged communication.

(c) Penalty; mitigating factors. —
   (1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, a person who violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 4 years or a fine not exceeding $ 25,000 or both.
   (2) (i) A person whose violation of this section involves the use or possession of marijuana is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $ 1,000 or both.

      (ii) 1. A person convicted of the use or possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is subject to imprisonment not exceeding 90 days or a fine not exceeding $ 500 or both.
         2. Unless specifically charged by the State, the use or possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana under subsubparagraph 1 of this subparagraph may not be considered a lesser included crime of any other crime.
         3. If a person is convicted under this subparagraph, the court shall stay any sentence imposed that includes an unserved, nonsuspended period of imprisonment without requiring an appeal bond:

            A. until the time for filing an appeal has expired; and
            B. if an appeal is filed, during the pendency of the appeal.
   (3) (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. "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 for the use or possession of 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 marijuana because of medical necessity, on conviction of a violation of this section, the maximum penalty that the court may impose on the person is a fine not exceeding $ 100.
      (iii) 1. In a prosecution for the use or possession of marijuana under this section, it is an 

What should I do if I have been charged with possession of marijuana less than 10 grams?

Contact the CDS Drug Possession of Marijuana Lawyers at the Law Offices of G. Randolph Rice, Jr., LLC, at 410-288-2900 for immediate help.  We can explain the law and help fight your case in court.  Don't go to Court alone and make sure you hire an experienced criminal defense and CDS Possession of Marijuana Lawyer in Maryland, call the office today.

The lawyers at the Law Offices of G. Randolph Rice, Jr., LLC, represent clients in Baltimore County, Harford County, Howard County, Anne Arundel County, Worcester County, Ocean City, and all counties and cities in Maryland.  Call the office today to schedule a free consultation. Don't let one minor mistake ruin the rest of your life, contact us today. 410-288-2900.

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