Possession of small amounts of marijuana used to be illegal in Maryland. The good news is that voters in the November 2022 election decided that enough was enough, approving a ballot question to make it legal for adults 21 and over to possess, smoke, and grow recreational marijuana.
The ballot initiative applies to the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana. According to the Washington Post:
- Possession of fewer than 1.5 ounces of marijuana becomes legal effective July 1, 2023. That means if you’re in a hurry to use this small amount of marijuana, there could still be consequences. Currently, possession of up to 10 grams won’t lead to criminal charges but possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana will carry a $100 civil fine. Possession of more than 10 grams can result in criminal charges. (There are 28 grams to an ounce.)
- Possession of 1.5 ounces of marijuana but less than 2.5 ounces will be a civil offense. The offense carries a fine of up to $250.
- Possession of more than 2.5 ounces will generally be punishable by up to 6 months in jail or up to $1,000 in fines. You will also have a criminal record.
- While you can smoke these small, approved amounts of marijuana in the privacy of your home, you cannot smoke in public. You can be fined $250 for smoking cannabis in public spaces.
The ballot initiative does not change Maryland’s medical marijuana law. There are several key steps to being able to use medical marijuana, including registering as a patient with the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, obtaining certification from an approved provider such as a physician, and obtaining the marijuana from an approved dispensary.
Maryland residents can, effective July 1, 2023, grow up to two cannabis plants in their homes.
Part of the reason the ballot initiative is not effective until the middle of 2023 is that legislators still need to approve a “framework for retail sales to begin.” Designing a framework for retail stores has proved to be a problem in both Washington DC and Virginia.
Does the legalization of marijuana in Maryland mean I can sell it?
No. The sale of marijuana without proper licensing is illegal. Per the Washington Post, “Selling marijuana without the proper licensing will remain illegal under the new law, classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to three years or a fine of up to $5,000.”
In the event you find yourself facing a drug arrest and charged, however, our seasoned Croton and Bowie drug crime defense lawyers will assert every available defense on your behalf.
Are there consequences for driving under the influence of marijuana?
You cannot drive while under the influence of marijuana. The ballot initiative does not change the criminal DUI laws.
Maryland law makes it illegal to “drive or attempt to drive any vehicle while so far impaired by any drug, any combination of drugs, or a combination of one or more drugs and alcohol that the person cannot drive a vehicle safely.”
A first-time conviction can result in imprisonment for up to two months or a fine of up to $500, or both. A second-time conviction can result in jail time of up to one year or a fine of up to $500, or both. There are more serious penalties for subsequent offenses. The penalties are also more severe if a minor is in your vehicle and if someone is injured as a result of driver impairment.
Our Croton and Bowie defense lawyers are skilled DUI and DWI defense lawyers. We’ve helped numerous defendants obtain dismissals and acquittals. Some of the common defenses we assert are that the police did not have grounds to stop you and that the police conducted the tests improperly or without a warrant.
A companion law passed by the state legislature in the spring of 2022 included an expungement provision. That provision provides that in all cases where possession of marijuana is the only charge, the conviction should be expunged. The law gives anyone currently in jail for possession of cannabis to petition for resentencing.
At Carey Law Office, we are skilled at filing expungement petitions. We can help determine if your marijuana criminal conviction is eligible for expungement.
Is recreational marijuana legal in Washington DC and Virginia?
Yes. The Washington Post summary of Maryland’s ballot initiative states that possession of up to two ounces of marijuana use for adults 21 and older is legal in Washington DC, effective 2014 – though the plans to approve a regulated retail market have not been acted upon – making possession legal, but the purchase or sale is still illegal.
The Virginia legislature in 2021 approved possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older. The legislature also approved the cultivation of up to four cannabis plants. Like Washington DC, the state still has not established a retail sales market – making the purchase or sale of marijuana still illegal.
Washington DC does have a loophole that may allow the purchase of small amounts of marijuana by making the marijuana a gift add-on to another purchase. Virginia has no such loophole.
At Carey Law Office, our Maryland criminal defense Joseph Cary has been fighting for the accused for 40 years. We represent those charged with marijuana offenses or any other drug offense in Crofton and Bowie. We also serve Calvert County. We represent defendants who have been charged with drug crimes in both federal and state courts. We fight for you from the moment of arrest through every stage of the criminal process. In addition to our strong record of dismissals and acquittals, we also have a strong record of negotiating drug charges to less serious offenses, such as civil charges.
If you’re facing drug or DUI/DWI charges, call our experienced Bowie and Crofton defense lawyer or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
My name is Joe Carey, and I am the founder and principal attorney of the Carey Law Office. I have lived in Maryland my entire life. I grew up in a small town in Prince George’s County and, with the help of my partner in life, Nancy, I raised my family here: three exceptional children (a son and two daughters), and two goofy, spoiled black Labrador Retrievers. Learn More