Maryland allows medical marijuana use for "debilitating conditions," when such use is a medical necessity, under the circumstances described below. As of 2011, Maryland Senate Bill 308 removed all criminal penalties for the cultivation, possession or use of one ounce or less of marijuana for medical use. However, it is still a crime to drive under the influence of marijuana, and other laws regarding marijuana possession for non-medical purposes will still apply. (Md. Crim. Code § 5-601.)
For information about how Maryland treats marijuana possession, sale, and manufacture; see Maryland Marijuana Laws.
For information on driving under the influence charges in Maryland, see Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Maryland.
Medical Marijuana Use in Maryland
Most states that allow medicinal use of marijuana decriminalize its possession and use, as long as the patient follows the law. Typically, patients must obtain a doctor's recommendation and register their status with the state. Police officers who come upon persons using marijuana for medical reasons do not arrest the patient if the officers are convinced that the use is legitimate--that is, the patient has adhered to the state's laws governing medicinal use.
Maryland, however, has not carved out medical use from its possession statute. Instead, patients can still be arrested for use, and to avoid conviction, they must prove to the judge or jury that their use was proper within Maryland's medicinal use scheme. Medical marijuana users may not take advantage of the medical marijuana exception if they used marijuana in a public place.
Avoiding Conviction When Using Marijuana for Medicinal Purposes
People who are arrested and brought to trial for using marijuana, who believe that their use falls within the state's medical use allowance, must prove to to the judge or jury that their use was legitimate. When the judge or jury believes the defendant, the consequences to the defendant will depend on the amount of marijuana possessed or used.
Up to one ounce
If successful in proving medicinal use, the defendant/patient will be acquitted.
More than one ounce
If the amount used by the defendant was more than one ounce, even if the judge or jury believes that the use was properly for medical reasons, the defendant won't be entitled to an acquittal. Instead, the defendant may be fined up to $100 or sentenced to up to one year in jail, or both. However, the court may mitigate, or lessen, the sentence based on the fact of proper medical use.
An Important Note on Local Legal Representation
If you have been charged with possession of marijuana that you believe falls within Maryland's medical marijuana exception, consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. Raising this defense at trial will be complicated.