The country is becoming more lenient when it comes to the use of marijuana. Recently, many states have chosen to legalize medical marijuana, including Maryland, and others have legalized it recreationally. Our nation’s capital allows recreational marijuana and even plays host to festivals for smokers on 4/20, which many Maryland citizens travel to attend.
With the recent changes and upcoming 4/20 celebrations, follow these tips to avoid arrest:
- Avoid Carrying Large Quantities of Marijuana
- Don’t Drive While Under the Influence of Drugs
- Don’t Sell Marijuana
- Don’t Smoke Marijuana in Public
- Avoid Possessing Multiple Marijuana Plants
Don’t Carry Large Quantities of Weed
The laws in Maryland have recently changed to be far more lenient on marijuana. The use and possession of marijuana was decriminalized, making it a civil offense (no possibility of jail time) to carry under 10 grams. If found in possession of 10 grams or less, the penalty is at most a $100 fine with no chance of incarceration.
If found carrying between 10 grams and 50 pounds the penalty is a misdemeanor and is punishable by at most 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine. However, if there is sufficient quantity, an individual will be charged with possession with intent to distribute.
Paraphernalia is a separate charge but is still lenient. If found in possession of drug paraphernalia, this typically would be a device used to ingest the drug, there is only a financial penalty. This means there is no jail time for the possession of paraphernalia.
There is also no chance of incarceration when selling or advertising distribution of drug paraphernalia the first time, but you can be fined up to $500. Subsequent violations can be punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a $2,000 fine.
If looking to avoid incarceration, you would be best off avoiding carrying more than 10 g of marijuana and solicitation of drug paraphernalia. Additionally, after the first offense it would be wise to be careful not to repeat as the penalties grow substantially with each offense.
Don’t Sell Drugs
The misdemeanor laws only benefit persons in possession, not those with the intention of selling or otherwise distributing the drug. Thus, in an attempt to avoid being arrested, do not sell any form of marijuana.
The penalties for being caught selling marijuana can be severe. If you get caught with less than 50 pounds of marijuana in an attempt to sell it is a felony with up to 5 years jail time and a fine of up to $15,000.
However, the penalties grow exponentially if you are caught with more than 50 pounds in your possession. It is a felony charge with no less than 5 years jail time and a fine of up to $100,000.
Possession of Drugs Near a School
In addition, if the incident occurs within 1,000 feet of any property owned by an elementary or secondary school the felony charge is punishable by up to 20 years in jail and a fine of up to $20,000, in addition to the charges above.
These charges can be costly, not only because of the fines associated with them and by the lost wages of time spent in jail, but also by the difficulty in finding a job moving forward. Felony charges can have severe impacts on career opportunities, so it is best to refrain from selling.
Don’t Drive While Under the Influence or Impaired by Marijuana
If you do choose to attend the D.C. celebrations, be sure to have a designated driver. While it is less common than with alcohol, officers can choose to administer a drug test on a suspected impaired driver.
Additionally, officers are able to forego a formal drug testing if they find the substance in the car with an impaired driver.
Driving While Impaired by Drugs in Maryland
The penalties for driving under the influence of a controlled substance in Maryland, can include up to a year in jail and a fine ranging from $500-$1000.
Driving while under the influence of marijuana puts you at risk of losing your license for up to 45 days, as well. You also could be required to take a drug/alcohol education program.
The penalties are even more severe if there is a minor in the vehicle, with fines going up to $2,000.
Additionally, travelling from Washington, D.C. to Maryland is considered crossing state lines and thus would become a trafficking charge, as well. Trafficking charges only apply to those carrying 5kg or more. Trafficking is a felony with up to 25 years jail time and up to $50,000 in fines. If you are carrying under 5kg of marijuana the charges could only include driving under the influence and possession.
If you get caught driving while in the possession of and under the influence of marijuana from D.C. to Maryland the charges would include the possession charge, driving while under the influence, and trafficking.
If planning to attend these celebrations as a Maryland resident, it is best to make sure that you have no marijuana in your possession when returning home to avoid these hefty charges.
Don’t Marihuana Smoke in Public
Ingesting marijuana is governed by laws similar to public intoxication laws. Being found ingesting marijuana in a public space carries a civil fine of up to $500 with increased penalties for repeat offenders.
The additional $500 charge would be on top of general possession charges. It is simple to avoid so it would be in your best interest to refrain from ingesting the drug in the general public.
If this space is near to a secondary or an elementary school it becomes a felony charge with up to 20 years in jail and up to $20,000 in fines.
Avoid Possessing Marijuana Plants
The new, more lenient, Maryland laws for the possession of marijuana apply only to the most common form of marijuana and concentrates.
They only somewhat apply to plants. Therefore, it is best to avoid possessing marijuana in this form.
The laws in Maryland for different forms of marijuana are complex and often vague.
If it is able to be determined that the plant was for personal use only than it is charged the same as having the common form of marijuana, however, if it is determined that the plants where grown with the intent to distribute than the charges would be the same as being caught selling.
Typically, this means that 4 plants or less would be charged with minor fines and penalties. More than 4 plants could mean years of jail time and significant fines. These penalties grow exponentially for repeat offenders.
So, if you’re planning to attend this year’s 4/20 festivities in our nation’s capital: stay safe, don’t drive, don’t sell, and don’t travel with marijuana back into Maryland.
*The information contained in this post of for information purposes only and is not legal advice.