Published on 6/6/2023, 3:24:00 PM
Maryland's New MJ Laws - Maryland Weed Law Update
Maryland joins the District of Columbia and Virginia in the push towards legalization of marjuana starting July 1st of 2023. Several new bills passed through the Maryland House and Senate which have cleared the way towards eliminating legal barriers to possession of marijuana.
Even though a lot of progress was made, there are still criminal offenses related to distribution and possession of marijuana in certain quantities. Additionally, a new barrier has been made against the legality of searches based solely on the odor of marijuana.
What's the legal term for marijuana in Maryland?
Maryland statutes refer to the substance as cannabis; however, this article will use the terms cannabis, marijuana, pot, and "weed" interchangeably.
Under Maryland law, Cannabis refers to any and all parts of the plant cannabis sativa L, as well as cannabis products like extracts.
How much weed can I have in Maryland?
Under the newly passed laws in Maryland - after July 1, 2023, an adult may legally have:
- up to 1.5 ounces cannabis
- up to 12 grams concentrated cannabis
- cannabis products containing up to 750 milligrams of delta-9-THC
- up to 2 cannabis plants
How many weed plants can I grow in Maryland?
After July 1, 2023, any adult over the age of 21 may grow up to two marijuana plants. If a person is a qualifying medical patient, they may grow up to four plants.
Can I smoke weed in public in Maryland?
Under the new cannabis laws, individuals found smoking cannabis in public places can receive a citation. Upon conviction in court, a first offense may attract a fine of up to $50. Subsequent offenses may lead to a fine of up to $150. However, these fines are contingent on the individual's guilt being definitively proven in court.
What happens if I have over 1.5 ounces of cannabis in Maryland?
There are civil and criminal penalties for possession of cannabis in excess of the personal use caps established under law. To understand these laws, we must first establish the "civil use" caps for cannabis possession.
What is the most marijuana I can have without getting a ticket in Maryland?
Maryland has additional caps for what is called "Civil use", which could only result in a fine for violating. The "civil" use cap for cannabis possession is:
- Between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces of cannabis
- Between 12 and 20 grams of concentrated cannabis
- Cannabis products containing more than 750 mg but less than 1250 strength delta-9-THC
What happens if I have more than the personal use amount of weed but less than the civil use amount?
If a person exceeds the personal use amount but does not exceed the civil use amount, they are subject to fines not to exceed $250.
What are the penalties for minors who are found with cannabis?
If a minor is found with cannabis they face a $100 fine. For a second violation they face a fine of $250, and for a third they face a fine of $500. It's important to note that these are civil citations and not criminal offenses.
If the violator is a minor, the Court may impose a requirement to attend a drug education program approved by the Maryland Department of Health, or complete a substance use disorder evaluation. If a minor violates the statute three times, then the court MUST order the treatment.
What is the most marijuana I can have without commiting a crime under Maryland's new pot laws?
Under the new Maryland laws, a person can have up to 2.5 ounces without committing a "criminal" offense, but may still be issued a civil citation if they have over 1.5 ounces. Once a person possesses more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana they may be exposed to criminal liability.
What are the new cannabis crimes in Maryland?
There are three major criminal weed offenses that remain in Maryland.
1. Possession of Cannabis in Excess of the "Civil Use" Amount
If a person is found guilty of possession in excess of the civil use amounts, they could face up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine not exceeding $1,000. This offense is a misdemeanor.
2. Possession with Intent to Distribute Cannabis & Distribution of Cannabis
Maryland's Possession with Intent to Distribute, or PWID changed with the new Marijuana laws. Starting July 1, 2023, Possession with intent to distribute cannabis is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Possession with Intent to Distribute charges usually involve large quantities of controlled dangerous substances. For weed cases, this would include amounts over 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Other factors might be considered like the way the cannabis was packaged, or the presence of large amounts of cash.
3. Growing or Manufacturing Cannabis Crimes
Maryland law will also prohibit the cultivation and/or growing of cannabis illegally. If a person illegally grows more than two plants, or a medical patient grows more than four plants, they might be charged with a violation of this statute. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in jail and/or a $5,000 fine.
Driving while under the influence of cannabis - Driving while high in Maryland
Despite the legalization of possessing pot, driving while high is still a criminal offense in Maryland.
Can Police stop my vehicle based on the odor of marijuana?
After July 1, 2023, Police may no longer initiate a stop of a person or motor vehicle based solely on the odor of burnt or unburnt cannabis, the possession or suspicion of possession of cannabis that does not exceed the personal use amount, or the presence of cash or currency in proximity to cannabis without other indica of a possession with intent to distribute.
Officers may still stop motor vehicles on the suspicion for driving while impaired or under the influence of cannabis.
Can Police search my car based on the odor of marijuana?
After July 1, 2023, Police will no longer be able to search a motor vehicle solely based on the odor of marijuana. There are several important ways that Police may still search vehicles based on the odor of cannabis.
1. Suspicion of Driving while High
If an officer suspects a person is driving while impaired or under the influence of cannabis they may search areas readily accessible to the driver or operator of the motor vehicle, or reasonably likely to contain evidence relevant to the condition of the driver.
2. A search incident to an arrest
If a driver is arrested, even for a non cannabis reason, an officer may conduct a search incident to arrest of a person or their vehicle. This could trigger an additional fourth amendment analysis that you should discuss with a criminal defense lawyer.
What if I consent to the search?
Pursuant to the new laws, even a search obtained with consent related to the odor of marijuana is not admissible in a trial, a hearing, or any other proceeding.
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