Vernon Maxwell of the Charlotte Hornets today lost a Supreme Court appeal of his 1995 conviction in Houston for marijuana possession.

It appeared that today's action clears the way for state prosecutors to seek a start of Maxwell's sentence - 180 days in the Harris County Jail. The sentence has been held in abeyance pending appeals.The lawyer who filed Maxwell's Supreme Court appeal - Ronald Wilson of Houston - did not return telephone calls to discuss the case.

The nation's highest court, without comment, turned away Maxwell's argument that his guilty plea had not been made knowingly or voluntarily because he had not received adequate legal help.

Maxwell has played for four other teams in his nine-year NBA career.