While federal law still considers possessing and selling marijuana to be criminal actions, many states are lessening their control over this particular drug. Like many states, Maryland has enacted laws that reduce the restrictions on possessing marijuana for recreational purposes. Patients who wish to use marijuana for medical purposes may also do so in Maryland, provided they meet the qualifications in the state’s medical marijuana statue.
In 2014, Maryland law decriminalized the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana. According to FindLaw, individuals who possess under 10 grams of marijuana may face fines for a civil offense but no criminal charges. The fine for a first offense is $100, and second-time offenders may owe $250. Each subsequent offense may lead to a fine of $500 and enrollment in a drug education program.
While this law has been in place for several years, recent news indicates another potential shift in the state’s marijuana policy. In January 2019, the Baltimore Sun reported that prosecutions for marijuana possession may cease altogether. According to the report, the State’s Attorney announced that enforcement and prosecution of marijuana possession would no longer occur. Under the new policy, individuals may not face prosecution for marijuana possession even if the amount is over 10 grams. Additionally, a person’s criminal history may not factor into a prosecution for marijuana possession.
Although individuals may not face formal prosecution for recreational marijuana use, law enforcement officers may still arrest people for possessing the drug. Additionally, marijuana remains a controlled substance according to federal law, so individuals could face charges from federal prosecutors. Maryland has not let legalized marijuana, though it may in the future, either through voter referendums or a bill passed in the state’s General Assembly.