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Maryland Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

Maryland lawmakers on Monday signed off on a number of historic and important pieces of legislation before adjourning for the year, including a bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana.
The Washington Post reports that the General Assembly finalized a cache number of bills, including one that outlaws “revenge porn” and another that increases the penalties for those found guilty of causing car accidents while using a handheld cell phone.
Other significant bills that received final passage included one to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and a bundle of bills that seeks to curb domestic violence, which includes a mandate for harsher sentences for those who commit domestic violence acts in the presence of a child.
While it may seem that most of the bills were geared toward the usual “get tough on crime” point of view, the move to decriminalize marijuana by imposing civil fines rather than criminal sanctions for the possession of less than 10 grams of pot is a positive step forward in the fight to reduce the number of people – mostly the poor and people of color – getting caught up in the criminal justice system for what is a medical and social issue.
In addition to the reduction of the sanctions, the Maryland state legislature also passed a measure to fix a law that was enacted last year to make marijuana more readily available to patients suffering from a variety of conditions and illnesses. In the original version of the law, responsibility for the program was handed over to academic medical centers. So far, none have been willing to participate – likely due to concerns of liability. Under the 2014 measure, a state commission will certify doctors to recommend patients receive the drug as treatment. With that certification, patients can then purchase the drug from state-licensed dispensaries.
Moving the control and responsibility of such programs to medical facilities and physician control is precisely the right action to take if the United States hopes to address its growing drug- and addiction-related crime issues. Even Gov. Martin O’Malley admitted his previously stated views that decriminalization might undermine public safety have changed dramatically.
The former prosecutor, who built a tough-on-crime platform as mayor of Baltimore, now says decriminalization “might even lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Contact Our DUI Lawyers (301) 761-4842 or (410) 734-2675