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How drug possession is punished in Maryland

The possession of certain drugs, such as illicit ones like heroin, marijuana or methamphetamine, or certain harmful prescription drugs, is a prosecutable offense under both Maryland and federal laws.

Maryland drug laws call for anyone convicted of being in possession of any controlled substance other than marijuana to be charged with a misdemeanor. A defendant may be charged with a felony instead if they're found to be in possession of a large enough amount of the drug than what any one person could consume.

Convictions for misdemeanor drug offenses in Maryland are punished as much as $25,000 in fines and as long as a four-year prison term. The fines assessed and the period of incarceration that a defendant faces depend greatly on how much of the drug he or she is found to have possessed. Whether the defendant has a prior criminal record will also impact his or her sentence.

Special sentencing guidelines exist if an individual is found to have been in possession of large amounts of highly addictive Schedule I or II drugs like cocaine, heroin or hallucinogenic drugs such as PCP or LSD. If the defendant is convicted of intent to distribute these drugs, then, he or she may have to pay fines as high as $20,000 and spent up to 20 years in prison.

Any defendant who possesses other drugs, such as more than 50 pounds of marijuana, is thought to have an intent to distribute the drug. If convicted of such a charge, then the defendant could face as long as five years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines.

Those charged with possessing an amount of marijuana lower than 10 grams in Maryland face a $100 fine for their first offense. A second and third violation of Maryland's marijuana possession laws carries with it $250 and $500 fines. Anyone found to be in possession of between 10 grams and 49 pounds of the drug also is subject to being charged with a misdemeanor, punishable as much as $1,000 in fines and/or a year in jail.

An attorney can help if you've been arrested and charged with a drug-related offense in Maryland. He or she can advise you of the penalties you're facing if convicted of that crime.

Source: FindLaw, "Maryland drug possession laws," accessed Nov. 10, 2017

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