In case you hadn’t heard, the Maryland General Assembly made major changes to the state’s marijuana laws. We briefly discussed them here. Now your Baltimore Marijuana lawyers want to review both the decriminalization (not legalization) and the medical marijuana program. We’re going to do our best to break these substantive changes in the law into three posts, but most likely we will barely scratch the surface and won’t have all the answers until long after October 1, 2014 (when the new laws go into effect). For part 1, we reviewed where the law was, where the law is, and where the law is going. Part 2 (this article) will discuss the practical implications of a civil citation for 10 grams of marijuana. Part 3 will discuss medical marijuana, dispensaries, and a marijuana card.
Baltimore Marijuana Lawyer: If I am caught with Marijuana after October 1, 2014, what will happen?
Well, first, keep in mind that Marijuana is not legal in any amount (unless you qualify and have received a medical marijuana card…more later on that). Second, if you are carrying an amount greater than 10g, it is still a crime carrying a year in prison. So let’s go through some typical scenarios and describe how law enforcement will likely proceed based on the commentary we have read regarding the change in the law:
- The car stop: If you’re driving a vehicle and are lawfully pulled over for a traffic infraction, expect officers to search your whole car if they smell or see marijuana (even if they find 10g or less immediately). Their argument will be that if they have reason to believe that marijuana is in the car, they cannot possibly know the amount and must search every possible compartment of your vehicle for weed. Courts in California and Massachusetts have come down on opposite sides of this issue. California said this is legal. Mass. courts decided that if they found 10g or less, they had to cite you and let you go.
- The street encounter: If a police officer stops to talk to you, please don’t volunteer that you have weed. You’re just asking to be detained. Remain silent, remain polite, remain calm, and call ENlawyers. The same principles apply as above = the cop will search you completely.
- 10 Grams or less, now what? The office will issue you a civil citation (like a parking ticket). It will be $100 and you can pay it at any courthouse. It will not appear on Maryland’s Judiciary website and will not be a criminal conviction. You can contest the offense, but criminal constitution protections will not apply, such as the right of confrontation, right to counsel, etc. For repeat offenses, you will pay additional fines and will eventually have to appear in court for “drug treatment programs” through DHMH.
- Pipes, rolling papers, bongs, etc – So the strangest part of this whole law is that paraphernalia is still a criminal offense. So you can get in more trouble for the rolling papers than the weed.
- Implications of civil infraction – The civil marijuana citation could still violate probation and it also could result in additional scrutiny at workplaces regarding drug use and testing.
Baltimore Marijuana Lawyer: Bottom Line
Not much is going to change in terms of law enforcement’s approach to encounters with citizens having and using marijuana because they will be looking for larger quantities and for other illegal substances. If you find yourself charged with any type of offense, you should seek counsel. Call your ENlawyers!