Marijuana laws in Maryland changing, leaving gray areas

Maryland has recently passed two marijuana bills into law: SB 364, which decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana, and HB 881, a law that allows patients to obtain medical marijuana with the right identification. Having marijuana on you in Maryland is no longer a misdemeanor in these small amounts.

Under SB 364, the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana becomes a civil offense. So, realistically, it’s not really decriminalized. You just get less of a punishment for having it. Initially, a first offense can result in fines of up to $100. On a second offense, you face fines of up to $250. For a third offense, you can be fined up to $500. If you’re under 21 and/or a third-time offender, you have to have clinical assessment completed for substance abuse disorder and go through a drug education program.

The law allegedly doesn’t give police direction on what is probable cause for a search to locate marijuana. It also don’t maintain criminal penalties for those who possess marijuana on school grounds.

The second bill, HB 881, protects patients who are suffering from severe disorders and muscle spasms, seizures, wasting syndrome or pain from arrest due to having marijuana on them. Patients are allowed to get medicine from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and need to have an identification card to do so.

There are still gray areas of these bills and laws, like what happens if a patient on medical marijuana is stopped for a potential DUI or what happens if a medical marijuana patient has more than 10 ounces of the drug on them while they’re with friends or relatives. This is why it’s important to take advantage of your right to a defense attorney. Without that right, your civil rights could be violated during unfair search and seizures or even searches without a warrant.

Source:  WUSA 9, “Md. governor signs marijuana bills into law” Bruce Leshan, Aug. 14, 2014