Today, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 78 to 55 in favor of Senate Bill 364 which reduces the penalty for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense.
Senate Bill 364 was originally amended by the House Judiciary Committee to simply form a task force to study the issue of marijuana decriminalization. However, this morning, under pressure from the House Black Caucus, the House Judiciary Committee reversed their vote and instead voted 13 to 8 to approve an amended version of SB 364. As amended by committee, the bill would make possession of 10 grams or less a civil offense with the first offense punishable by a $100. The fine for a second offense would be $250, and the fine for a third and subsequent offenses would be $500. The original Senate version set the fine at $100, no matter which offense it was. SB 364 is now expected to go to conference committee to resolve the differences between the version approved by the House and the one approved by the state Senate.
Commenting on today’s vote, NORML Communication Director Erik Altieri stated, “This bill represents a great step forward in reversing the devastating effect current marijuana policies have on communities in Maryland. While the state must now move forward on the legalization and regulation of marijuana, we applaud Maryland legislators in taking action to end the 23,000 marijuana possession arrests occurring in the state every year.”
According to a 2013 ACLU report, Maryland possesses the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests per capita of any state in the country. Maryland arrests over 23,000 individuals for simple marijuana possession every year, at the cost over of 100 million dollars.
NORML will keep you updated on the progress of this legislation.
Cheers to Maryland, and especially the black caucus for speaking truth to power.
Even though I’m from Indiana; it’s still good to hear that people will not be put in jail, but instead be fined for having a small amount of marijuana.
I don’t think people understand how, not only is jail uncomfortable (as it should be) but it can be really dangerous.
Guards cannot watch everyone all of the time, who knows what could happen. These dangerous things happen in an a 1 to 3 day jail time offence, and can happen in any other sentence as well.
I wish those here in Indiana would please go and look at the bigger overnight jails (drunk tanks) before they vote or make a decision on decriminalizing a marijuana possession.
Sweet. Next step legalize witht the right to grow in home so big marijuana doesn’t screw us over like big tobacco.
“…the devastating effect current marijuana policies have on communities in Maryland.”
“When a darkie smokes marijuana, he thinks he’s just as good as a white man.” — HJ Anslinger
Hooray for the House Black Caucus!
A Great day in the Free State. Now, will O’Malley sign it?
NOW IF O’Malley would sign it, he has held up writing regs for medical use since it passed, Glad the Gen Assem. passed this, how about removal of convictions now?
Two thumbs up, at least it’s a step closer to legalization.
Nope. Not good enough. Still suggests that there is something wrong with adults smoking marijuana, still subjects users to all kinds of sanctions, such as loss of professional license, and still means you have to get your weed from illicit dealers, many of whom are complete sketchballs, who have no reason to feel accountable and means you are still at risk of getting all kinds of shit mixed in with your pot, everything from synthetic marijuana to crack to dryer lint, and at very least you have no choice of what you get, which is often pressed dried out shit from Mexican ganglords that smokes like rope.
Nothing short of full legalization and regulation in all 50 states will do.
Hey i have a pending marijuana possession case in maryland. i know this is not going to become a law on the books for some time but will i be retro-actively taken off of probation when this law goes into action??
OMalley said he is gonna sign it!
Thank God, the high school kids won’t have to go to jail. This just leaves the medical marijuana community and adult users out of luck and facing a felony and 5 years if caught with 11 grams or more. BTW, no hospital or university is ever going to produce and supply medical cannabis to anyone, at any time, anywhere in the USA.(Except for those 4 Federal patients from the 80’s who are grandfathered-in.)
Fantastic first step for MD.
I’m glad my state thinks it’s heading in the right direction but this bill is a complete sham, it’s more like one step forward and two steps back compared to other states and especially compared to dc. Maryland just has a tendency to implement laws that on the outside seem good a forward thinking but they end up going nowhere or nothing changes, such as the affirmative defense/medical necessity law, or the medical marijuana law for medical academic facilities. I understand it’s a step if any but they need a new approach that actually does some good. Did you know that yes you can now possess, (keyword is POSSESS) 10 grams or less if your 21 and older and it’s not a crime but you can’t smoke it. In maryland it’s still Illegal for anyone 21+ or younger to have paraphernalia, which means papers pipes bongs chillums are all still Illegal and you can be charged of a crime. Also you will still have to go to court if ur caught with 10 grams or less they will still end up wasting your time and your tax dollars.
Now according to MD NORML, Baltimore Sun Sunday 4/13/2014. States Attorney’s office and Prosecutors are Petitioning the Governor to Veto the Bill. Hate to say this but I really don’t think O’SMELLY will sign the bill. Gotta remember he was a Former States Attorney Prosector and His wife is a sitting Judge in this state. I really Hate my states politics!!!!
[Paul Armentano responds: The Governor signed the decrim measure into law on Monday, April 14, 2014.]
Galileo, and gee how is it that using marijuana “let” people see their color isn’t anywhere near as important as they had been told it is??? Could it be that it lets your brain work better??? And then this is called a “bad thing” by stupid people, but really what is “bad” about blacks and whites commingling, getting married and making babies? Sounds rather conservative and very American to me… Sounds great, actually.