Drug Offenses

There is a lot at stake when you’re charged with a drug-related offense (personal reputation, job, freedom, and even your license).

At Carey Law Office, we have a unique approach to handling drug-related offenses¬. We believe that drug offenses should be addressed medically, not criminally. That’s why our goal is to change the focus of your charge from punishment to rehabilitation. After over 30 years defending our clients against drug charges, we know exactly how to help you fight this charge and increase your chances of a better outcome on your trial date. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, we will work to reduce your penalty to a minimum.

Drug conviction penalties vary a lot depending on the drug, the amount, and your record. These kinds of charges fall into a couple of general categories: marijuana charges, narcotics charges, prescription possession, and prescription fraud. We’ve included more detailed information for each of these below.


Marijuana was recently decriminalized in Maryland—but what exactly does that mean? Now, using marijuana and possessing less than 10 grams of it isn’t actually a crime. It’s only a civil offense, so you can’t go to jail for it; the maximum penalty for it is a $100 fine. However, just because use and small possession were decriminalized, that doesn’t mean you can freely carry over 10 grams or sell marijuana without risking jail time. See the chart below to see what the penalties are for these offenses.

Even though small possession isn’t a crime anymore, it is still illegal to possess any amount of marijuana if you intend to distribute it. Keep in mind that it doesn’t matter whether you actually intended to distribute it—what matters is what the arresting officer thinks you were doing.

Offense Penalty Jail Time Maximum Fine
Use marijuana Civil Offense None $500
Possession: under 10g Civil Offense None $100
Possession: between 10g and 50 lbs Misdemeanor 1 year $1,000
Possession: over 50 lbs Felony 5 years $100,00
Selling: under 45kg Felony 10 years $10,000
Possession with intent to distribute (under 50 lbs) Felony 5 years $15,000

The chart above isn’t meant to be a complete list—it’s only meant to give you an idea of what to expect. It’s also important to remember that the stakes are much higher if this isn’t your first drug charge. Subsequent offenses often carry mandatory minimum jail sentences and increased fines. Penalties also increase if a firearm was involved, if the offense involved a minor, and if it happened near a school.


The court takes more seriously the possession, use, and selling of other drugs that are considered more serious than marijuana, like cocaine, heroin, and meth. The maximum penalty for possessing other hard drugs (not including marijuana) is 4 years in jail and a $25,000 fine. Like with marijuana, if you are charged with selling or intending to distribute drugs, the penalties increase dramatically; intending to distribute these drugs can lead to up to 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. If this isn’t your first drug charge, the consequences will be much more serious.


As the opioid crisis in Maryland continues to get more serious, the State of Maryland has cracked down hard on the illegal possession of prescription drugs without having a prescription for it. This ranges from seemingly harmless “study drugs” like Adderall to serious painkillers like OxyContin.

A person can be arrested for possessing prescription drugs if they don’t have a prescription for it, or even if they don’t have the prescription on them (meaning they aren’t carrying it in the prescription bottle). The severity of these cases depends on many things, including the exact drug and amount, whether the individual has a prescription, if the drug is being used recreationally, and if they intended to sell it.

Prescription Fraud

Forging a prescription to illegally get prescription drugs is a serious drug-related offense. The maximum penalty is a fine of up to $1,000 and 10 years in prison. If you didn’t forge the prescription yourself, but still knowingly used it to illegally get a drug, then the maximum penalty is $1,000 and a 3-year jail sentence.