Man charged with marijuana possession benefits from Maryland's decriminalization

Change comes with Maryland marijuana reforms
Md. man's story of growing marijuana
Posted at 11:45 PM, May 22, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-22 23:47:11-04
Maryland signed off on its medical marijuana program four years ago, and it has yet to deliver its first dose, but there is evidence that public acceptance of the drug has already had an impact on the state.
In July of 2012, police discovered dozens of marijuana plants in Nick Dominick's backyard, and he admitted he'd grown them so he could self-medicate.
"Back pain issues... I had surgery on my neck for cervical fusion and I can't take medications and pain pills and stuff like that," said Dominick at the time.
But Anne Arundel County police saw it differently---a virtual field of marijuana, concealed by a six foot high fence with lattice and black plastic sheeting all located within a thousand feet of Arundel High School.
Toss in two dozen guns, including an AK-47 assault rifle, and they suspected far more than a man trying to fix what ailed him.
"We have no information that it was for medical purposes,” said Capt. Randy Jones. “46 plants and all the plants were between five and six feet tall.  A large amount of marijuana... too much for single consumption by one individual."
"You might think so, but it was storage for a year until next year I could harvest again,” responded Dominick. “None of it every left the property. That's the issue. None of it ever left the property, and I never have any guests. I'm basically a hermit."
Ultimately, prosecutors agreed.
Dominick copped a plea to the possession charge in exchange for probation before judgment--- a chance to avoid a drug charge on his record.
He's retired now still living in the same Gambrills home.
"I think it was mainly the activities of the police---they didn't process things right and just the fact that most of the charges were trumped up because of the fact I live so close to a school and there was no intention to distribute," said Dominick recently.
In the years that have followed his arrest, Dominick has witnessed Maryland as it decriminalized pot for personal use and legalized it for medicinal purposes.
"I think they're seeing the light, but they're dragging their feet, because of politics and who's going to make the money when it starts selling."
What some will see as progress, others view with some skepticism.
Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Wes Adams is one of them.
"Obviously, the biggest problem for me is how some of our existing laws are going to be effected---Driving Under the Influence, Driving While Intoxicated,” said Adams. “There has got to be a regulation and I anticipate as it becomes more available for people to use medicinally, that is a problem that could show up."
Adams is also concerned over the potential for secondary sales of marijuana in its plant form.
As for those who think they can sidestep prosecution in light of the pot reforms in Maryland, he suggests they think again.
"Will people certainly try to self-medicate or claim medication? Sure, but they're not going to receive the protection of a person who has gone to a doctor, gotten a prescription for it and filled it out properly following the laws of the state," said Adams.
It is a legal option for people like Nick Dominick where there was none before.
"Well, I was suffering from back pains for twenty-some years and working and just barely getting through the work day, and the more medicine you take for it, it burns your stomach out so you have stomach problems and I also had to get off the pain pills and all that," said Dominick. "I think there is a future for it and 90 percent of the people you talk to either participate or don't care--- you just do your thing and don't be bothered by it.
As for the potential for a federal crackdown on marijuana usage, Maryland is warning applicants that it will still be illegal to transport the drug across state lines or in federal parks or properties here within the state.