Maryland drug paraphernalia crimes often involve items with a lawful use, and generally require more than mere possession of the item. There must be some indication that the item is intended for use with an illegal drug, which in Maryland is referred to as a controlled dangerous substance, or CDS. At times, this can be provided by the item itself, but more often it is provided by the facts and circumstances surrounding the item. One of the ways that a lawyer can defend you from these charges is to effectively argue that the facts and circumstances do not indicate that the item is drug paraphernalia.
There are three basic CDS drug paraphernalia crimes in Maryland, with different penalties. The same item may be punishable under more than one part of the law.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia
The most basic CDS paraphernalia crime, possession of drug paraphernalia that does not involve marijuana, is a misdemeanor in Maryland. For a first offense, drug paraphernalia is punishable by a maximum of a 500 dollar fine. Subsequent offenses are punishable by up to $2,000, and two years in jail.
Drug paraphernalia involved with marijuana has been excepted from the law as part of Maryland’s recent history of legislative changes that decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. Where the paraphernalia is involved with the possession or use of marijuana, possession or use of drug paraphernalia is no longer a crime. However, distribution related marijuana paraphernalia crimes remain in effect. Delivery, sale, and manufacture of marijuana involved drug paraphernalia is still a crime. Possession with intent to deliver or sell marijuana involved drug paraphernalia is also still a crime. Advertising drug paraphernalia involving marijuana is also still a crime. The penalties are the same as those for possessing drug paraphernalia.
Possession of Controlled Paraphernalia
It is a more serious crime to possess or distribute specific bits of drug paraphernalia in Maryland called “controlled paraphernalia”. Punishments for possession of controlled paraphernalia are more severe, but the items classified as controlled paraphernalia are much more limited. Controlled paraphernalia is usually a syringe or needle, but also includes capsules, and cuts that are used with illegal drugs or CDS. In the law, cuts for illegal drugs are referred to as dilutants or adulterants.
Possession of controlled paraphernalia may be abbreviated on your charges as CR 5-620(a)(2) CDS ADMIN EQUIP POSS/DIST.
Controlled paraphernalia is defined in CR § 5-101(g) as:
(1) a hypodermic syringe, needle, or any other object or combination of objects adapted to administer a controlled dangerous substance by hypodermic injection;
(2) a gelatin capsule, glassine envelope, or other container suitable for packaging individual quantities of a controlled dangerous substance; or
(3) lactose, quinine, mannite, mannitol, dextrose, sucrose, procaine hydrochloride, or any other substance suitable as a diluent or adulterant.
Mere possession of these items alone does not make you guilty. There must also be either a false act in connection with obtaining or attempting to obtain the paraphernalia, or evidence that you intend to illegally use the controlled paraphernalia.
The punishment for possession of controlled paraphernalia is up to 1 year and a $1,000 fine for a violation involving the use of marijuana, and 4 years and a $25,000 fine otherwise. These maximum penalties are more severe than those for a drug possession charge involving the same underlying CDS.
Equipment to Produce a Controlled Dangerous Substance
Possessing equipment to produce illegal drugs is the most serious possession of paraphernalia crime in Maryland. As is generally the case for these crimes, there must be circumstances that reasonably indicate an attempt to use it to produce, sell, or dispense a controlled dangerous substance in violation of the law.
A violation is a felony, and depending on your prior offenses and what drugs are involved, the penalties can vary widely. Maximum penalties start at five years and a fine of $15,000 for a first time offense involving a relatively favored drug, and go up to a mandatory minimum of 40 years with a fine of up to $100,000 for fourth time offenders involving certain drugs.