Penalties for First Time Drug Possession in Maryland

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Drug offenses are serious in Maryland. Drug possession can land you in prison. Narcotics-related charges carry a wide range of consequences. The penalties for first-time drug possession in Maryland depends on many variables. While Maryland has decriminalized bot not legalized the possession of small qualities of marijuana, the penalties for possession of other drugs are more Draconian.

Baltimore drug possession lawyer Randolph Rice describes the penalties for first-time drug possession in Maryland.

Outlining the Penalties for First Time Drug Possession in Maryland

The harshness of the penalties for first-time possession offenses in Maryland depends on the type of drug and the quantity. Maryland follows the federal rules over the classification of controlled and dangerous substances. Schedule 1 drugs have a high potential for abuse and no medically accepted use. These drugs are heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), ecstasy) methaqualone and peyote.

Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to “severe psychological or physical dependence.” These dangerous drugs include Vicodin, cocaine, methamphetamine, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), methadone, meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin. Some of these drugs are not purely recreational but have a medical use. Our Baltimore lawyer for Schedule I or II drug crimes can help you understand the charges and penalties.

If you are found in possession of any other drug, aside from low levels of marijuana, you will a misdemeanor or a felony charge, depending on the amount of the controlled substance in your possession. The first time possession of drugs carries a potential 4-year prison sentence and fines reaching $25,000. This maximum potential sentence applies to drugs like cocaine, heroin, LSD, ecstasy, meth, and prescription drugs.

Maryland recently decriminalized the possession of small levels of marijuana. Having small amounts of cannabis (less than 10 grams) is a civil offense like a moving violation. Possession of higher amounts of cannabis or other drugs can lead to heavy penalties, depending on the amounts and whether the accused intended to distribute the drugs.

Under Maryland code, § 5-60, a person may not possess or administer to another a controlled dangerous substance, unless it is obtained directly or by prescription or ordered from an “authorized provider acting in the course of professional practice.”

It’s unlawful to get or attempt to obtain a controlled dangerous substance by:

  • Fraud, misrepresentation, deceit or subterfuge
  • The concealment of a material fact
  • Altering or counterfeiting a prescription or a written order
  • Using a false name or address
  • Concealing a material fact
  • Making, issuing, or presenting a fake or counterfeit prescription or written order
  • Falsely taking the title of or pretending to be a manufacturer, distributor, or authorized provider

It’s illegal to give false information to a doctor to obtain a controlled dangerous substance. Keep reading from our Baltimore criminal defense lawyer about the different penalties for drug possession.

Penalties for First Time Possession of Marijuana in Maryland

If you are convicted of possession of marijuana above 10 grams, you could face a fine of up to $1,000, incarceration of one year in jail, or both, for a first offense. However, obtaining marijuana to treat a medical condition could be a defense.

A first finding of guilt for the possession of 10 grams of marijuana or less is a civil matter punishable by a fine not exceeding $100. The fine rises to $250 for a second civil violation of possessing small quantities of cannabis and $500 for a third offense.

People found to be in possession of small amounts of marijuana who are under the age of 21 must attend a drug education program approved by the Maryland Department of Health.

The courts take people caught in possession of certain drugs more seriously than others.

Penalties for First Time Possession of Cocaine in Maryland

If you are caught in possession of cocaine, you can be imprisoned for up to four years for a first-time misdemeanor and fined as much as $25,000. If you have at least 28 grams on you, the offense becomes a felony with a penalty of 25 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000.

Sale of cocaine is automatically a penalty carrying up to 20 years incarceration and a fine up to $25,000, while the offense of trafficking carries a potential prison term of 20-40 years and a $1 million fine.

Penalties for First Time Possession of Heroin

Possession of heroin is taken seriously in Maryland and other states. Even first-time possession of small amounts of the drug can lead to serious penalties. Possession of heroin is a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to four years behind bars, and/or a fine of up to $25,000. If you bring heroin into the state of Maryland, you can be charged with a felony carrying up to 25 years in prison and a fine up to $50,000. The potential sentence for an offender who sells heroin is a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and/or a fine of $25,000.

Penalties for Possession of Crystal Meth in Maryland

Crystal meth or methamphetamine is a manufactured drug that is highly addictive and affects the central nervous system. Crystal meth is linked to many illnesses and is seen as a public health hazard. You face four years in prison and a fine of $25,000 or less if you have meth on your possession. You can be incarcerated for 25 years and fined $50,000 for bringing larger amounts of the drug into Maryland.

Penalties for first-time drug possession in Maryland are complicated by federal drug laws. First-time possession of five or more grams of meth carries a minimum of five years in prison and a maximum of 40.

You don’t have to have a drug on your person to be charged with possession. You simply have to have control of a drug. The substance can be in your home or car as well as on you.

Call a Drug Defense Attorney over First Time Drug Possession in Maryland

At the Law Offices of Randolph Rice, our experienced Baltimore drug crime defense lawyer has helped people charged with these serious offenses for decades. Few things are more alarming and frightening than a first-time drug possession charge.

People charged with drug possession sometimes make the mistake of failing to take the potential consequences seriously enough. Maryland has strict drug laws that you ignore at your peril. We will look for holes in the prosecution case and do everything we can to prove your innocence or introduce evince that will reduce your eventual sentence. Please call us as soon as possible after a drug possession charge at (410) 431-0911.


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