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Understanding Drug Charges in Maryland 

Mohammadi & Humayun, LLC Dec. 7, 2022

Syringe and Drugs with A Defocused Man Handcuffed on The FloorFacing drug-related charges is a highly stressful and complicated situation. You may be unsure of where to turn or what steps to take next. Understanding drug charges in Maryland is the first step in exercising the right to a strong defense.

At Mohammadi & Humayun, LLC, our skilled legal team is on your side, every step of the way. Whether you live in Rockville or neighboring areas like Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, and Fredrick County, reach out to us for a one-on-one consultation. No one deserves to face criminal accusations alone.

What Are Controlled Substances in Maryland? 

In Maryland, controlled substances are not freely available. In other words, controlled substances may be illegal. Please note that over-the-counter medications are not always controlled substances. Nevertheless, some prescription medications may be considered controlled substances. 

It is worth noting that there are five drug 'schedules' in Maryland. These schedules refer to specific classifications of drugs and medications based on the level of addiction and dependence they cause. 

Here is a look at drug scheduling: 

  • Schedule I. These are drugs not currently accepted for medical use. They have a high degree of dependency or abuse. For example, LSD, cannabis, and ecstasy are examples of Schedule I substances. 

  • Schedule II. These are substances designated with a high potential for abuse. Some prescription drugs, such as Vicodin, Demerol, OxyContin, and Adderall, fall under this category. Illegal drugs such as methamphetamine, cocaine, and methadone are considered Schedule II drugs. 

  • Schedule III. These drugs are known as substances with low to moderate potential for physical and psychological dependence. These drugs generally have less abuse potential than Schedule I and II drugs but have a higher potential than Schedule IV. These substances include products with less than 90 mg of codeine (i.e., Tylenol), ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone. 

  • Schedule IV. These substances have a low risk of abuse and dependence. For instance, Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Valium, Ambien, and Tramadol fall under this designation. In general, Schedule IV drugs require a doctor’s prescription. 

  • Schedule V. These drugs have a lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV substances but contain limited amounts of specific narcotics. Schedule V drugs generally have antidiarrheal, analgesic, and antitussive purposes. For instance, cough syrups with less than 100 ml of codeine, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin qualify as Schedule V drugs. 

In some instances, drug charges may stem from possessing prescription medications. Therefore, understanding controlled substance scheduling is crucial in arguing a solid defense.  

Federal vs. State Drug Charges 

Generally speaking, federal drug charges are filed when individuals are caught in large-scale drug operations. Also, drug trafficking situations involving a significant amount of drugs, people, and money fall under federal prosecution. The type of drugs also determines the need for federal charges.  

Minor cases involving possession and distribution are prosecuted at the state level. State charges also depend on the specific jurisdiction of the crime. For instance, an individual arrested with a large amount of marihuana may be charged under state law. However, an individual arrested after crossing the US-Mexico border may be charged under federal law. 

Note that federal charges often have a harsher penalty than state charges. State charges are generally misdemeanors and lower-level felonies. Federal laws apply to high-degree felonies with penalties involving incarceration and fines. 

Common Drug Charges in Maryland 

Here is a breakdown of common drug charges in Rockville as well as Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Howard County, and Fredrick County: 

  • Possession. Possessing drugs in excess of legal limits may warrant prosecution. For instance, possessing more than 10 grams of marihuana is considered a misdemeanor. However, possession with the intent to distribute is a serious offense. It is considered a felony and involves prison time. 

  • Manufacturing. Drug manufacturing (i.e., synthetic drugs such as meth) is a felony. It may be prosecuted under federal law. Drug manufacturing charges may include trafficking. Individuals face prison time and fines. 

  • Trafficking. Trafficking generally involves large-scale selling and distribution. Small-scale drug selling may be prosecuted under state law as a low-level felony. However, large-scale selling and distribution may fall under federal law leading to significant jail sentences and fines. 

Individuals facing drug charges need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. A trusted criminal defense attorney can help individuals see charges reduced or seek to have charges dismissed altogether. 

Possible Penalties for Drug Charges in Maryland 

Here are some general guidelines regarding possible penalties for drug charges in Maryland: 

  • Misdemeanors. Misdemeanors such as exceeding the legal possession amount often involve a fine. First offenders could request to have charges dismissed. Repeat offenders may face a combination of a short-term sentence and a fine. 

  • Felonies. Low-level felonies may receive short-term prison sentences (usually less than a year) and a fine under state law. However, some felonies may get prison terms of more than one year under state law. 

  • Federal charges. Federal charges are felonies and come with harsh penalties. These penalties may include long-term prison sentences depending on the drug schedule. Prison sentences are served at federal facilities.    

Drug charges are a serious matter. Therefore, enlisting the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney is highly recommended. 

Finding the Right Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

You don't need to face drug charges alone. At Mohammadi & Humayun, LLC, we focus on providing skilled and compassionate legal counsel in Rockville, Maryland. We strive to protect your right to a fair defense under the law. We will stop at nothing to ensure our clients and their loved ones have a chance to find a path forward. Set up a consultation with us as soon as possible.