Experienced Annapolis Marijuana Possession Attorney
Helping people charged with weed possessions throughout Maryland
In 2014, the state of Maryland decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and many people began to doubt the severity of all marijuana possession charges. (Maryland also permits the medical use of marijuana subject to very specific conditions.) Possession of any substantial amount of marijuana for nonmedical purposes is still a crime, and marijuana is considered a controlled substance. Convictions can result in imprisonment, large fines, and a criminal record. You may find it difficult to obtain credit, find an apartment, or employment if you have a criminal record. Some alternatives to sentencing may be available.
I am Gill Andrew Cochran, and I know what’s at stake in any drug case. That’s why I diligently advocate in the best interest of every client. At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, you receive comprehensive representation from an experienced Annapolis criminal defense attorney. I work aggressively to suppress evidence that was illegally obtained. In many cases, I am able to obtain a dismissal, an acquittal, or a reduction of the drug crime charges to a less serious offense.
Frequently Asked Questions About Weed:
- What are Maryland’s marijuana possession laws?
- What are Maryland’s laws on the medical use of marijuana?
- Can I use marijuana recreationally in Maryland?
- What defenses are used in marijuana possession cases in Annapolis?
- Will I go to jail for possession of marijuana in Maryland?
What are Maryland’s marijuana possession laws?
Maryland has different laws depending on the amount of marijuana, the reason for using the marijuana, and other factors. They include:
- Citation for Possession of Less Than 10 Grams of Marijuana. This is what I meant when I said that marijuana possession was decriminalized. Maryland now provides for just a civil penalty for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana.
- Possession of between 10 grams and less than 50 pounds. Possession of this amount of marijuana is a misdemeanor. You can be sentenced to up to one year in jail. The fine that a judge can impose is up to $1,000.
- Possession of 50 pounds or more. Possession of this amount is a felony that can include a sentence up to five years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. You could also get hit with trafficking charges.
- Possession with intent to deliver. This crime is a felony. A judge can impose a sentence of up to five years in jail and a $15,000 fine. If the amount of marijuana is 50 pounds or more, the five-year sentence is mandatory. Generally, if you possess 50 pounds or more, law enforcement believes your intent is to sell the marijuana, not just to use it. When establishing a possession with intent to deliver case, law enforcement agents look for signs of distribution, such as scales, small baggies, and large quantities of cash.
- Cultivation of marijuana. Cultivation of cannabis is considered a possession offense. For the record, it doesn’t matter if you’re growing your own as a medical marijuana patient, either.
- Possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Generally, this offense is considered a civil offense. However, the sale or marketing of marijuana paraphernalia is considered a criminal offense – unless there is a legal purpose. “Paraphernalia includes all drug-related items, including objects used in the cultivation, harvesting, storage, testing, analysis, concealment or use of marijuana.” If the sale involves a minor at least three years younger than the seller, the penalties increase.
Kingpin status and school zones
Possession penalties can increase, though, for things like “kingpin” status. According to Marijuana and the Law: “Maryland has a so-called ‘drug kingpin’ statute that penalizes certain high-volume traffickers with at least 20 years in prison and as many as 40, plus up to $1 million in fines.”
If you are charged with possession with intent to deliver on a school vehicle or within 1,000 feet of an elementary or secondary school – or the offense involves a minor, you can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison and fined up to $20,000. The penalties increase for subsequent offenses.
A knowledgeable Maryland marijuana possession attorney understands that additional convictions carry even harsher sentences. This is why I work hard to prevent any conviction, whether it is the first or the fifth.
What are Maryland’s laws on the medical use of marijuana?
Maryland provides that a “defendant may introduce and the court shall consider as a mitigating factor any evidence of medical necessity.…if the court finds that the person used or possessed marijuana because of medical necessity, the court shall dismiss the charge.”
The assertion that the marijuana is medically necessary requires showing that:
- The defendant has a debilitating medical condition that has been diagnosed by a physician with whom the defendant has a bona fide physician–patient relationship.
- The debilitating medical condition is severe and resistant to conventional medicine.
- Marijuana is likely to provide the defendant with therapeutic or palliative relief from the debilitating medical condition.
The availability of the medical necessity defense for a possession of marijuana charge also applies to caregivers of people with a debilitating condition. “Debilitating medical condition,” according to the Maryland state statute 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:
• Cachexia or wasting syndrome
• Severe or chronic pain
• Severe nausea
• Severe and persistent muscle spasms
• Any other condition that is severe and resistant to conventional medicine
Can I use marijuana recreationally in Maryland?
No. Watch the above video where I break it down for you.
What defenses are used in marijuana possession cases in Annapolis?
When developing a marijuana possession defense, there are numerous tactics a skilled Annapolis criminal defense lawyer may use. The discovery of the marijuana often results from an improper search of your home or vehicle. At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, I expect law enforcement officers to conduct their marijuana possession investigations according to the laws of this state and country. If they fail to meet this expectation, I diligently advocate for the suppression of all resulting evidence.
The law that is used most often to contest the admissibility of improperly seized evidence is the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution. That law provides “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Other defenses include:
- Seeking to exclude any statements you made to the police in violation of your Constitutional right not to incriminate yourself.
- Showing that the chain of custody of the drugs was broken during the time the drugs were being stored, examined, or transported.
- Asserting that you did not have actual possession of the drugs.
- Questioning the credibility of the police officer through cross-examination.
- Asserting that the prosecution was not able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
When defending intent to distribute cases, one possible strategy is getting the charges reduced to simple possession. This is done by challenging the state’s assumption about your intentions, and asserting that the marijuana was possessed for personal use only.
Will I go to jail for possession of marijuana in Maryland?
Not necessarily. First of all, some low-level possession charges are less likely to lead to jail time. But the “big” charges? You may still be able to avoid jail or prison. Anne Arundel County does have drug courts for people who have substance abuse problems. The aim of the drug court is to help treat your addiction or abuse instead of incarcerating you. Generally, to participate in a drug court program, you must meet the eligibility requirements. If accepted into the program:
- You are placed on probation. This includes meeting with a probation officer, a clinical case manager, and a treatment provider.
- You must complete a drug treatment program specially designed for you. The treatment programs last at least six months. You will also need to attend an aftercare program and attend, on time, all scheduled group meetings.
- You must be employed, actively seeking employment, or in school.
- You must submit to random drug testing. You cannot use any drugs or alcohol while in the program.
You must also avoid any other criminal conduct and attend all drug court reviews. The program has four phases that last for 12-18 months. Various sanctions, including termination of the program and incarceration, may be imposed if you fail to comply with the conditions of the drug court program.
Charged with marijuana possession? Call us in Annapolis or Ellicott City today
At Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, I take every marijuana possession case seriously and diligently advocate for the best possible outcome. I am proud to represent my clients in Annapolis and Ellicott City, and I strive to keep my services financially accessible. If you are facing marijuana possession charges, you need a seasoned criminal defense lawyer on your side. Call my office today at 410.271.1892 or complete our contact form to schedule an appointment.
And remember: Keep Calm – and Call Drew.