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Drug Possession and Drug Distribution Charges in Maryland: Differences Explained

drug possession

Like many other states, Maryland enforces strict laws governing controlled substances’ possession and distribution. Distinguishing between drug possession and drug distribution charges is pivotal, as is understanding the legal repercussions associated with these offenses.

This article will delve into the disparities between these two charges, Maryland’s drug laws, and the potential ramifications of a conviction. Whether you’re a concerned citizen or someone grappling with these charges, knowing the law is your first step in navigating the complex world of drug-related legal matters in Maryland.

What’s the Difference Between These Drug Possession and Drug Distribution?

While both charges are serious offenses, knowing the key differences is essential. Let’s discuss the details of these two types of drug charges.

Drug Possession

Drug possession refers to the act of having illegal substances, such as narcotics or controlled substances, in one’s physical possession or control. In Maryland, possession charges can be classified into two categories: simple possession and possession with intent to distribute.

  • Simple possession occurs when an individual has a controlled substance for personal use, and there is no evidence or intent to sell or distribute it. Penalties for simple possession vary depending on the type and amount of the substance, but it is usually treated as a misdemeanor.
  • Possession with intent to distribute is a more severe charge that implies the defendant intended to sell, deliver, or distribute the controlled substance. The penalties for this charge can range from misdemeanor to felony, depending on the type and amount of drugs involved.

Drug Distribution

Drug distribution, also known as drug trafficking, involves selling, delivering, or distributing illegal substances. This charge carries more severe legal consequences than drug possession, which is a felony in most cases. Drug distribution charges can also vary based on the type and quantity of drugs involved.

Maryland Drug Laws and Consequences

The Controlled Dangerous Substances Act primarily governs Maryland’s drug laws. The state classifies controlled substances into different schedules, each with its own set of penalties. Here is a breakdown of Maryland’s drug laws and potential consequences.

  • Schedule I and II Substances (CDS Possession: Not Marijuana)
    • Schedule I and II substances include drugs like heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines.
    • Possession of these drugs can result in a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine for a first offense.
    • Possession with intent to distribute can lead to up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 for a first offense.
  • Schedule III, IV, and V Substances
    • These schedules encompass drugs with a lower potential for abuse, such as certain prescription medications.
    • Possession of these substances without a valid prescription can result in misdemeanor charges.
    • Possession with intent to distribute may lead to felony charges with penalties ranging from five to 20 years in prison, depending on the quantity and type of drug.
  • Marijuana
    • Maryland has legalized possession of cannabis (marijuana) for adults 21 years and older. They may possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flower, up to 12 grams of concentrated cannabis; or a total amount of cannabis products that does not exceed 750 mg of THC.
    • Possession with intent to distribute cannabis can still lead to misdemeanor charges.
  • Paraphernalia
    • Possession of drug paraphernalia, such as pipes or syringes, is also prohibited and can result in misdemeanor charges.

Additional Consequences

Apart from the legal penalties, a drug conviction in Maryland can have long-lasting consequences, including:

  • A permanent criminal record can affect employment opportunities and housing.
  • Loss of certain rights, such as the right to possess firearms.
  • Ineligibility for federal financial aid for education.
  • Potential immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens, including deportation.
  • Mandatory drug education or rehabilitation programs.

Defenses and Legal Options

Facing drug possession or distribution charges is a serious matter, but individuals have legal rights and options to mount a defense. Enlisting the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that you know your options. Some common defenses include:

  • Lack of Possession — The defendant did not have physical possession or control of the drugs.
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure — If police obtained the evidence through an illegal search or seizure, it may be deemed inadmissible in court.
  • Invalid Arrest — If the arrest was not conducted properly or lacked probable cause, it may be challenged.
  • Proving Intent — The prosecution must demonstrate the defendant’s intent to distribute for distribution charges. A possession charge may be considered if the prosecution cannot prove this.
  • Prescription — If the defendant had a valid prescription for a controlled substance, it may be a valid defense.

Trust Jeremy Widder Law to Defend You Against Your Drug Charges

Understanding the distinctions between drug possession and drug distribution charges and Maryland’s drug laws and their potential consequences is crucial for individuals facing these charges. Everyone has the right to a fair legal defense, and various strategies can be employed to challenge these charges. Ultimately, understanding the law and seeking professional advice is the first step toward navigating this challenging legal landscape.

Jeremy Widder Law has extensive experience defending clients against drug charges. We are committed to being by your side throughout the entire process. We will listen to your story, help you decide on your preferred outcome, and work towards a favorable plea bargain or a trial win.

We’re ready to help! Contact us today for a free consultation.


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