In Maryland, drug possession is a common criminal charge. Despite being very common, drug possession charges remain significant, and depending on different circumstances; someone can be in jail for years. With more agencies reporting, the percentage of drug-related crimes in Maryland increases year over year. And while the average sentence for drug possession changes by state, a first offense charge can lead to anywhere from 4 years to up to 20 years in jail.
Drug Possession Penalties by Substance
Possession of drugs charges has different penalties depending on the substance and the type of charges. Here’s an overview of the average disadvantages in Maryland.
Schedule I and II Narcotic Substances
For making, selling, or possessing any Schedule I and II narcotics, expect a fine of up to $25,000, 20 years in prison, or both. A second conviction can incur a penalty of up to $100,000, ten years in jail, or both. A third conviction incurs a fine of up to $100,000 and at least 25 years in prison, while a fourth conviction can lead to at least 40 years in prison.
Schedule I and II Hallucinogenic Substances
Making, selling, or possessing any Schedule I and II hallucinogenics incurs a fine of up to $20,000 and 20 years in prison or both. A second conviction includes a fine of up to $100,000 and at least ten years in jail, a third adds a penalty of up to $100,000 and 25 years in prison, and the fourth conviction includes the same fine with up to 40 years in prison.
Schedule III, IV, and V Substances
For making, selling, or possessing Schedule III, IV, and V substances, you can get a fine of up to $15,000 and 5 years in prison. Second and subsequent convictions incur a penalty of up to $15,000 and between 2 to 5 years in prison.
Drug Scheduling 101
Drugs are classified by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) into drug schedules. These controlled substances are categorized based on the potential for abuse. Here’s how drugs are classified according to the DEA:
- Schedule I: Drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Examples include heroin, LSD, and ecstasy.
- Schedule II: Drugs or substances with a high potential for abuse and with a recognized medical use. Examples include oxycodone, methadone, and cocaine.
- Schedule III: Substances and drugs with a moderate to low potential for dependence. Examples include fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin.
- Schedule IV: Substances or drugs with a low potential for abuse and dependence. Examples include Xanax, Valium, and Ambien.
- Schedule V: These are substances, drugs, or chemicals with low potential for abuse. Examples include Lyrica, cough syrup, and Lomotil.
What Does Drug Possession Mean?
While Maryland has decriminalized the possession of marijuana, possession of other drugs can lead to severe penalties. Here’s what drug possession means in this state:
- Drug Possession: Being found in possession of any controlled substance (besides marijuana) is considered a misdemeanor that can be punished by up to four years of prison and fines up to $25,000.
- Intent to Distribute: Possession with intent to distribute any Schedule I and II substances, punished with up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Possession of hallucinogenics is penalized with up to 20 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. And drugs other than Schedule I or II substances are punished with up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,500.
- Possession of Drug Paraphernalia: Being found with possession of marijuana paraphernalia with intent to use can be punished with one year in jail or a fine of up to $500. Possession of non-marijuana paraphernalia with intent to use is penalized with up to four years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.
There aren’t rules when it comes to probation in Maryland. However, some people facing drug possession charges might obtain prison alternative sentences when they commit to seeking treatment or getting help for their substance abuse problem. Many states, including Maryland, are looking at prison alternative efforts to help people break their substance abuse and find the treatment they desperately need to curb the crimes related to drug abuse.