Maryland Laws Change on October 1
Marijuana Possession and Good Samaritan Law

Q & A - Criminal and Civil Impacts of Possession of Marijuana


Q. What is the current law on possession of marijuana?

A.        Possession of Paraphernalia: A person in possession of drug paraphernalia is subject to a fine of $500 for the first offense, and upon a second or subsequent offense, a possible period of imprisonment of up to 2 years, and a fine of $2,000.

            Possession under 10g: A person in possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is subject to a possible period of imprisonment for up to 90 days and/or a fine of up to $500.

            Possession over 10g: A person in possession of marijuana over 10 grams is subject to a possible period of imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to $1,000.

            Possession with the intent to distribute: A person who has an amount of marijuana that could be used for distribution, or the circumstances indicate an intent to distribute, could be subject to a period of imprisonment of up to 5 years and a fine of $15,000. There are possible enhanced penalties for repeat offenders.


Q. What laws on possession of marijuana change as of October 1, 2014?

A. Only the law on possession of marijuana less than 10 grams will change.


Q. How will the law change on possession of marijuana less than 10 grams as of October 1, 2014?

A. A violation of possession of marijuana less than 10 grams is a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense.


Q. What happens if a person is charged with possession of marijuana less than 10 grams?

A. A citation is issued and must be signed by the issuing officer and must contain (1) the name and address of the person charged; (2) the date and time the violation occurred; (3) the location where the violation occurred; (4) the fine that may be imposed; and (5) notice stating prepayment of the fine is allowed. A person may either pay the fine in full or request a trial date from the District Court.


Q. Does it matter how old the person is who is charged?

A. Yes.


Under the age of 18:

If the person is less than the age of 18 and charged with this offense, they will be subject to juvenile court procedures and dispositions, including referral to an alcohol or a substance abuse education or rehabilitation program. A police officer authorized to make arrests must issue a citation to a child if the officer has probable cause to believe the child is committing an offense.


Under the age of 21 but older than 18:

If the person is younger than age 21 but older than 18, the person must appear for trial and may not pay a prepaid fine like someone over the age of 21. Additionally, the court must order a person under 21 to attend a State-approved drug education program and refer the person to get an assessment for a substance abuse disorder. After the assessment, the court must refer the person to substance abuse treatment, if necessary.


Q. Do the penalties increase if there is a subsequent violation?

A. Yes. If the person is charged with a subsequent violation, the fines and penalties increase. The fine increases to $250 for a second offense, and the maximum fine for a third or subsequent offense is $500. If a person commits a third or subsequent violation, or is younger than age 21, the person must appear in court for trial. The court costs in any case that goes to court are $22.50, in addition to any fine imposed by a judge.


Q. What affect will this charge have on my public record?

Under the age of 18:

Juvenile records are not public record.


Over the age of 18:

A violation for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is not subject to public inspection and may not be included on the public website maintained by the Maryland Judiciary.


Prepared by: Timothy Mitchell, Esq., a Board Member and Officer of HC DrugFree. The information provided here should be used as reference only and is not intended to provide legal advice. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug offense, you are strongly encouraged to seek legal advice.

Good Samaritan Law

The information below was provided by the NIDA Blog Team September 25, 2014  

On October 1, the State of Maryland will put into effect what's called a "Good Samaritan Law," which will protect a person from getting in trouble if they summon aid for someone else who is overdosing on drugs or alcohol.  Twenty states and the District of Columbia now have such laws, and more states are considering them - because they save lives.


Many people who overdose on drugs die because the people they are with have also taken drugs and are afraid of getting caught - so they hesitate to dial 911.


Those friends may not just be acting selfishly - they may be unsure of how serious the problem is and, fearing legal trouble, may not be using their best judgment. Second-guessing how much danger an overdosing companion is in can cause a fatal delay in calling for help.


What Friends Are For

The term "Good Samaritan" comes from a parable in the New Testament about a stranger who comes to the aid of a robbed, beaten-up traveler. Good Samaritan laws are passed to remove obstacles to helping others in need, such as calling for medical assistance.


Good Samaritan laws around the country differ on their specifics, but they all provide some degree of protection or immunity from prosecution for a person caught violating a drug law in the context of seeking medical attention.


With the new Maryland law, an overdose victim and any Good Samaritan helping them can't be prosecuted for possessing drugs or drug paraphernalia, or for being intoxicated. (It will not protect someone from being caught selling drugs, though.) For example, if you are a Maryland teenager drinking alcohol with your friend and your friend becomes sick, neither of you will get in trouble if you call for help, even though you are underage.


Do the Right Thing

Many overdose deaths can be prevented. You can overdose on different types of drugs or drug combinations, including alcohol.  Lately there's been a lot of attention paid to overdoses from prescription opioids and heroin. Those overdoses are easy to reverse with the injection of a drug called naloxone, which paramedics and many police carry with them for these emergencies. But you have to act fast to prevent a death.


In the past couple years, several people have died after taking "Molly" (or in some cases other drugs they thought was Molly) at different music festivals around the country. Just this August, two young people died of Molly overdoses at the Mad Decent Block Party music festival in Maryland. We don't know if these lives might have been saved if bystanders had called for help sooner, but the new Maryland law will reduce the number of future deaths from drug overdoses at music festivals and anywhere else.


The bottom line is: Always be a Good Samaritan. Don't hesitate to call for medical help if you think a friend might be in trouble or overdosing. If you don't know if they're overdosing or not, call 911 - better to be safe than be really sorry later.  

If you have any questions or comments, contact me at or 443-325-0040.

Joan Webb Scornaienchi Executive Director 
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