Skip to content


Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance (CDS)

Maryland has a variety of levels of drug offense for possession of illegal drugs, which vary depending on the amount and type of the substance. In Maryland, illegal drugs are called CDS, short for “Controlled Dangerous Substance.”

Except for marijuana possession under 10 grams, all Maryland drug possession offenses are criminal, jailable offenses prohibited under CR 5-601.

Possession of CDS – Not Marijuana

For purposes of drug possession in Maryland, as long as the quantities involved are not gigantic (a pound of cocaine, for instance), and distribution is not an issue, the amount of the CDS does not affect the maximum sentence, and all drugs other than marijuana have the same maximum sentence. This includes both illegal drugs distributed entirely unlawfully like PCP, fentanyl, ecstasy, LSD, heroin, amphetamines, cocaine, and also prescription drugs that you may not have been prescribed, like oxycodone, percocet, or adderall. Drug possession may be abbreviated as “CR 5-601(a)(1) CDS:POSSESS-NOT MARIJUANA” in your charges.

A first conviction for drug possession is punishable by up to 1 year in jail, and a fine of $1000, a second or third conviction for drug possession is punishable by up to 18 months and $5000, and a fourth or later conviction for drug possession is punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a fine of up to $5000. A prior finding of probation before judgment does not count as a conviction.

The maximum penalties for drug possession in Maryland were recently lowered by the legislature. Previously, these offenses had a four-year maximum irrespective of the number of prior offenses.

The law of possession in Maryland is very intricate. I have used those laws to secure dismissal of charges of very large quantities of CDS drugs. Do not assume that your case is hopeless just because you are charged, or believe that you are guilty. Drug possession offenses can sometimes be hard for the state to prove.

If you are charged with possession of CDS, or another drug possession crime or drug distribution crime, let me extract you from the situation. Call me at (301) 556‑8709 today, because I have years of experience fixing these problems for people just like you.

Marijuana Possession

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 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine, while possession or use of other controlled dangerous substances have the higher maximum penalties described above. Marijuana possession may be abbreviated as “CR 5-601(a)(1) CDS: POSS-MARIJUANA 10GM+” in your charges.

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 assessed 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.

Possession of drug paraphernalia related to less than 10 grams of marijuana has also been decriminalized.

There are exceptions for medicinal users of marijuana. If the judge makes a finding of medical necessity and certain criteria are met, even if the amount is more than 10 grams, the charges can be dismissed by the court.

Alternatives to the Criminal Justice System for Drug Users

Small time drug users, even if the drug is not marijuana, are not always treated as ordinary criminals by judges and prosecutors – often they are treated as addicts with a disease. An experienced 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). Even when guilt is clear, I have experience negotiating favorable deals for accused drug offenders that often result in dismissal of all charges.

Maximum Penalties For Possession of CDS

  • CDS: Possession-Marijuana 10g or more: misdemeanor, up to six months 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-Not Marijuana, 1st conviction: misdemeanor, 4 years and $25,000
  • CDS: Possession-Not Marijuana, 1st conviction: misdemeanor, 1 year and $1000
  • CDS: Possession-Not Marijuana, 2nd or 3rd conviction: misdemeanor, 18 months and $5000
  • CDS: Possession-Not Marijuana, 4th or later conviction: misdemeanor, 2 years and $5000

If you’ve been charged with any form of CDS possession or drug possession, call (301) 556-8709 today, so that I can use my years of experience with these charges to get your charges dropped or otherwise resolved in your favor.