While recreational marijuana is still illegal here in Maryland, there are options for people to become medical patients, and the drug has been decriminalized to a point in general. This is great! Sort of. The problem with a lot of medical marijuana programs, especially in states where it’s new and ONLY medical, is there are often a bunch of roadblocks in place to make it as difficult as possible for patients to get their rollin’ on. From steep fees to become a patient in the first place, to limited conditions that qualify, to arbitrary rules and laws that seem to be in place just to laugh in your face, personally, it becomes increasingly clear that they don’t actually want anyone to get high at all.
But why not? Really, what is their deal? More specifically, why is it that medical patients have no choice but to go to an actual dispensary, regardless of their health or a literal pandemic?
Legal high horse
Get it? High?
But really, let’s explore how Maryland’s marijuana laws are sort of like an oatmeal raisin cookie: enticing on the surface, until you see it clearly. It is important to know and understand, because it’s far harder to accidentally break laws you know are there. And trust me — they want you to break these laws.
In layman’s terms, marijuana in general is decriminalized for amounts less than 10 grams, and you can get a medical card if you have a qualifying condition and get properly prescribed by a qualifying doctor. Yes, there are specific doctors you must choose from to become a patient. This is one of the hurdles the law throws at you. If you use marijuana recreationally, you may not go to prison for the joint you got caught with, but what you’re doing still counts as illegal and still may get you penalized in some form or another.
Intent to sell, if they’re able to prove it, instantly boosts that penalty. And as the amount of marijuana grows, so do the possible punishments — up to a whopping 40 years in prison! Granted, you would need more than 50 pounds of the stuff with a provable intent to sell, but it’s still possible.
Here’s the other twist, though. In Maryland, there isn’t actually an explicit law against growing your own weed as a medical patient aside from “no you can’t.” This is because the penalties and charges are grouped in with possession, which means it doesn’t matter if you’re prescribed or using recreationally. Possession limits are the least forgiving parts of decriminalized and legal medical marijuana. In fact, medical patients don’t even decide how much marijuana they get. Since it’s a prescription, it’s whatever their physician decides, and that amount is meant to last them 30 days.
The law, essentially, is, “You are allowed to purchase weed, but you cannot own it in any controllable way.” And the law is very, very smug about this.
Sticks and stoners
But really, why do they care? What’s the point of allowing patients to legally, medically use marijuana if they can’t use it in the way that works best for them? There are several reasons why someone would choose to grow their own electric lettuce, from ease to costs to having a hobby for gardening and then eating a lot of food, so why is the law dead set on criminalizing it?
Well, there are a couple reasons:
- Yield. As previously stated, the amount a person can own is limited. A single pot plant can yield almost four times the legal limit.
- Money. Of course, money is involved. Patients would need to visit dispensaries far less often and spend far less money if they could simply harvest their own plant. Medical – and legal – marijuana endeavors in states are almost always designed to boost the economy as much as possible.
- Ease of trafficking. Trafficking marijuana is illegal on every level and at every amount. But with no good trace of where the marijuana comes from, it can be easily lost, cut with deadlier drugs, and transported across state lines.
- Control. Because it equals knowledge, and knowledge is power. Making everything in writing and by-the-books means it’s harder to hide or manipulate, and it means anything outside of the decided parameters can easily be labelled “illegal.”
Of course, laws and regulations are constantly in flux. Just as medical marijuana used to be illegal, surely the other limits and restrictions will loosen up over time as well. But for now, these are the facts, and this is what can get you in trouble.
You don’t have to sit idly by and let yourself get penalized, though. If you’re a medical patient facing punishment for the drug you worked hard to be allowed to use, you need a qualified marijuana possession attorney on your side. Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law is just the criminal defense firm for you, with offices in both Annapolis and Ellicott City. We know all the ins and outs, and we know how to keep the law on your side — where it belongs. To find out more, give us a call at 410-271-1892 or fill out our online contact form today.
And remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew.