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Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS)

It is unlawful to possess or administer an illegal drug, which is called a “Controlled Dangerous Substance” or a CDS under Maryland law.

Maryland makes a distinction between marijuana and all other illegal drugs. Possessing or using marijuana in an amount of ten grams or more is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, while possession or use of other controlled dangerous substances is punishable by up to four years imprisonment and a $25,000 fine.

The possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized, the authorities are now required to charge those who possess small amounts of marijuana with the civil offense of possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, which is punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third or subsequent offense. Offenders who commit a third or subsequent offense or who are under the age of 21 may also be required to attend a drug education program, to be assesssed for a substance abuse disorder, and to seek drug treatment. Civil citations for the use or possession of amounts of marijuana under 10 grams are not subject to public inspection and will not appear on the court website.

Oddly, possession of drug paraphernalia involving less than ten grams of marijuana is still a criminal offense. You may be charged criminally for a container or pipe containing an amount of marijuana that merits only a civil citation. The legislature has passed a fix for this, that decriminalizes drug paraphernalia involving the use or possession of marijuana in any amount, but the fix does not take effect until October 1, 2015.

There are exceptions for medicinal users of marijuana. If the judge makes a finding of medical necessity, the maximum sentence is reduced to a $100 fine without incarceration. If the medical need is sufficiently strong and meets certain criteria, medical need can also be used as an affirmative defense which may result in an acquittal.

Small time drug users are not always treated as ordinary criminals by judges and prosecutors – often they are treated as addicts with a disease. A lawyer can facilitate many alternatives to incarceration. Sometimes offenders are offered a pretrial diversion program, where the user takes a class or receives treatment in exchange for the state dropping the charges. Offenders also sometimes receive supervised or unsupervised Probation Before Judgment (PBJ).

If you’ve been charged with possession of marijuana or possession of any other CDS, call (301) 556-8709 today so that we can get to work on your case.

Maximum Penalties For Possession of CDS

  • CDS: Possession-Marijuana: misdemeanor, 1 year and $1,000
  • CDS: Possession-Marijuana Less Than 10g: civil citation, up to $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense, and $500 afterwards; drug education or treatment may be required for those with two prior offenses or those under 21
  • CDS: Possession-Marijuana, medical necessity: misdemeanor, $100
  • CDS: Possession-Not Marijuana: misdemeanor, 4 years and $25,000