Maryland Senate Gives Final Approval to Marijuana Decriminalization Bill; Measure Will Be Sent to Gov. O’Malley For Signature

From the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland

Organizations urge Gov. O’Malley to sign SB 364, which would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense; more than two-thirds of Maryland voters support stronger decriminalization legislation, and more than half of state voters support removing all penalties for adult marijuana possession

The Maryland Senate gave final approval Monday (33-8) to a bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. It will now be sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley, who organizations are encouraging to sign the measure into law.

Senate Bill 364 will make possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68%) support removing criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana (about 28.5 grams) and replacing them with a civil fine of up to $100, according to a September survey conducted by Public Policy Polling. It also found 53% of Maryland voters support making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and regulating it similarly to alcohol. The full results are available at www.mpp.org/MDpoll. The results of an annual survey released last week by the Pew Research Center showed a record-high 54% of Americans think marijuana should be legal, and 76% think possession of small amounts of marijuana should not warrant time in jail.

Fifteen other states have decriminalized marijuana possession, and two states — Washington and Colorado — have enacted laws making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it similarly to alcohol. On March 31, Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed a bill that replaces criminal penalties for possession of up to one ounce of marijuana in the District with a civil fine of $25.

The following is a statement from the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland:

“We applaud state lawmakers for taking action to end Maryland’s antiquated practice of criminalizing people for simple marijuana possession. More than two out of three state voters believe this legislation’s time has come, and we hope Gov. O’Malley will sign it into law once it reaches his desk.

“This measure will prevent tens of thousands of Marylanders from facing life-altering criminal penalties simply for possessing a less harmful substance than alcohol. But there is still more work to be done. Although it is a step in the right direction, this legislation will not do anything to eliminate the problems associated with relegating the sales of marijuana to the underground market.

“Most Marylanders, like most Americans, believe it is time move beyond the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and adopt a more sensible approach. It appears legislators are quickly coming to recognize the benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana, and we hope they will give strong consideration to taking that step next year.”

Comments

  1. Proud to be Liberal says

    This is one bill I strongly disagree with. What’s next legalizing PCP, mushrooms or ecstasy? Many types of Marijuana come with other drugs laced in them, how are officers of the law to tell the difference. A HUGE problem is going to be that many employers will still prohibit marijuana due to liability reasons. We are sending a message to our youth that this is ok to do and it just isn’t. If they insist on legalizing it then have dispensaries and tax the weed.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 9 Thumb down 15
    • Kharn says

      Employers prohibiting marijuana use will be a huge problem?
      Employers are allowed to set whatever limits they want on their workforce, such as no tobacco use (more of a medical insurance thing, but the restriction is allowed) or 8 hours between last drink and reporting to work. It is their reputation on the line and their liability if an employee is injured or injuries another person. If a worker is not happy with the idea of X hours between last joint and the time they clock in, they can find another job that does not have that restriction.

      But I do agree that decriminalization is not a perfect solution, recreational legalization with significant taxes would be the right way to do it. Look at Colorado with how they’re having to issue their citizens a tax refund because they’ve taken in too much in tax revenue due to legalization. (of course, we don’t have a taxpayers’ bill of rights in MD, so the state would just spend it all)

      Well-loved. Thumb up 13 Thumb down 3
    • BillH says

      They didn’t legalize it, they decriminalized it. Not understanding what you are commenting on doesn’t help whatever cause you think you are fighting for.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 7
  2. Honey Badger says

    Honey Badger don’t smoke Marijuana. Honey Badger stopped smoking from the peace pipe after Woodstock. Honey Badger got really stoned and hungry a few times. Honey Badger thinks this is a bad idea to legalize this stuff. Honey Badger don’t care if potheads support this legislation. Honey Badger thinks this O’Malley fella might smoke marijuana. Honey Badger don’t care if he does.

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    • three's a crowd says

      Im sure you have been smoking mary jane. You keep refereing to yourself in the third person. So when they legalize marijuana does that mean I can buy it from a the local shop and smoke till i drop. We are going down the slippery slop and I wanna see who gets the licenses for the shops. Im sure its gonna be supporters of the current maryland government. So could you do me a favor Honey Badger….can I have some of your stash…..oh wait, is that name trademarked? LOL

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  3. MD sucks @$$ says

    Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see.

    Poorly-rated. Thumb up 4 Thumb down 16
    • Kharn says

      10 grams is a lot of weed, a dime bag can be anywhere between 0.5-2 grams depending on a number of factors. Plus, once you get above buying a dime bag, you’re buying by exact weight anyway so the potheads would know exactly how much they have on hand.

      Well-loved. Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0
    • Overtaxed says

      You are an idiot. People that smoke pot are never violent, they get the munchies and then fall asleep.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 6
  4. MD sucks @$$ says

    People that smoke pot are never violent ——–so you say

    what about the 16 year old that robbed 2 drug dealers with a pellet gun at basta pasta a few years back, and led the police on a 3 hour chase looking for him ? not violent It seems ?

    or the many others who make the local papers and assault people for money or beat on a drug dealer to get the drugs, again NOT violent , right ?

    they seem like laid back dope addicts just trying to get by from the hard day to day that they have

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5
      • Fallston Family Dinner says

        @word on the street- it’s the truth. I was eating dinner in Basta pasta when it happened. Sheriff Bane was also eating dinner there. When we got home I turned on my scanner and heard what sounded like a Supervisor in a foot chase with one of the suspects. About 15 minutes later I saw a Maryland State Police Helicopter circling the area. I assume it was a supervisor because they kept saying corporal and sir when they talked to him on the radio. There was about 10 to 15 squad cars in my neighborhood off of rt 165.

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  5. well... says

    By all means decriminalize… America is full of losers that just can’t face the rigors of another day of living without a euphoria crutch to prop up their weak minds and psyches. And before you get hacked off at me, I did more than probably 90% of you ever saw and I’ve been off it for over 30 years… I know friends that didn’t quit and their bulbs are burning at around 10 watts… Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland you’re a bunch of pathetic, sniveling, weak minded, no will losers. I wish you well in trying to deal with your problems by not dealing with them.

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  6. Police can't solve your stupidity says

    All this does is enable potheads and crackheads. Often times marijuana users are dually addicted to other drugs and the state is saying it’s ok. What about when one of you tin tokers are driving while impaired by thc and kill someone, are all you pro pot advocates ok with that?

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