Marijuana laws can be complicated and they’re always changing throughout the country. Maryland is no exception. Historically, marijuana has been treated the same as any other drug. It was penalized the same way as heroin or cocaine. Having a certain amount of it would be enough to get you charged with a felony for possession, with intent. And people went to prison for marijuana.

Our views as society have changed pretty dramatically and in 2016 in Maryland marijuana was partially decriminalized. What that means is that if you have less than 10 grams of marijuana in Maryland, it is no longer a crime. Instead. It’s what’s called a civil infraction or civil citation. It’s a lot like getting a parking ticket or an underage drinking citation. Again, not a crime.

However, if you have more than 10 grams of marijuana, it’s still illegal. It’s just as illegal as it used to be. Now, a lot of places don’t treat it the same as other drugs anymore, but still, if you have 10 grams of marijuana, you are theoretically looking at a misdemeanor for possession of a controlled, dangerous substance.

In addition, you can be charged with a felony and you could be looking at prison time if you have enough marijuana or they catch you manufacturing or distributing it. The manufacturer of marijuana is actually what most police departments that focus on. There are some states attorney’s offices and jurisdictions that aren’t really focusing on marijuana – Baltimore City, for example, has had a policy where they weren’t prosecuting marijuana related crimes at all for a number of years.

A lot of other jurisdictions are following suit and will not really prosecute small amounts of marijuana, even if it would otherwise still technically be a crime. One thing to keep in mind though, and this is something that the Maryland’s court of appeals its highest court has continuously upheld is that the odor of marijuana is enough for police to search your vehicle. So even if you have a non-criminal amount of marijuana, if less than 10 grams, that is enough for the police to search your vehicle. So if you don’t want the police to search your vehicle, it’s best. If you don’t have any marijuana on you and don’t use any marijuana in the short period of time before you’re driving, if you smell like pot and the police smell pot, they will be able to search your vehicle. Despite the fact that that doesn’t necessarily make sense anymore, given that it’s not illegal to have a small amount of marijuana. Remember, the Court of Appeals has continuously upheld that as a valid search, although things could be changing this fall when the Maryland legislature is set to vote on whether or not marijuana should be just made completely legal. If the law passes, recreational marijuana use would be fully legal. At that point. It would no longer be a crime to have anything related to marijuana still that hasn’t happened yet.

So as of right now, possession of more than 10 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor and could be a felony, if you have enough of it or they catch you distributing or manufacturing, it.  I will say there is an important exception where if you have medical marijuana license or card, then you are allowed to possess marijuana as long as it’s within your prescription and within what the card says that you’re allowed to have.

To summarize, possession of marijuana is legal – if you have a medical marijuana card and you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing with regards to that card. Like I said, our views as a society on marijuana are changing pretty rapidly. And unfortunately the law is lagging behind a little bit. So if you have been charged with possession of marijuana or even something more serious, it’s still important that you get a lawyer because you could be looking at prison time.

For more than 30 years, we have been helping clients in Germantown, Clarksburg, and throughout Montgomery, Frederick, and the surrounding counties. If you have been charged with a crime, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation.