For mere possession of marijuana you can be sentenced to one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine. A judge could also sentence you to a year, suspend that, and place you on five years of probation with strict conditions attached (I've seen this done). For a second offense, the maximum could be two years and/or a $2000 fine if the State serves proper notice (which is always done in many counties).
Our so-called "medical marijuana law", which former Governor Bob Ehrlich (R) signed despite pressure from the Bush administration not to, hardly provides much relief to sick people. They still have to buy the marijuana from drug dealers which puts them at risk for being shot and/or arrested. If arrested, the charges are not automatically dropped. If the prosecutor insists on pressing forward (and an inexperienced prosecutor in our lower level trial courts likely would), the maximum sentence is then $100. You still get a criminal record. And if you happen to be on parole or probation then this can still serve as a violation.
Knowing this I was happy to see the headline in the Baltimore Sun this morning which read "2 bills would legalize medical marijuana". But I was not surprised to read the next line "Laws would be more stringent than other states' . . . ." Still the bills go a long way toward helping medical marijuana patients and would move us in the right direction. People with serious medical conditions would be able to get cannabis from "state-licensed dispensaries and pharmacies" so they wouldn't have to purchase from gang members. This is certainly an improvement and I hope the bill passes. It is a small step, but an important one.