Maryland: Reduced Marijuana Possession Penalties Take Effect

A new Maryland law depenalizing marijuana possession offenses takes effect this Wednesday.

Senate Bill 364, signed into law this past April, amends statewide penalties for marijuana possession offenses involving ten grams or less from a criminal misdemeanor (presently punishable by arrest, up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, and a criminal record) to a non-arrestable, non-criminal, fine-only offense ($100 fine for first-time offenders, $250 for second-time offenders).

The new law does not reclassify penalties involving the possession of marijuana paraphernalia, which remains a criminal offense.

A 2013 ACLU analysis of state-by-state marijuana arrests data reported that Maryland has the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests in the nation.

Nearly 20 additional states, as well as the District of Columbia, now classify minor marijuana possession as a non-arrestable offense.

28 thoughts

  1. I was busted in Maryland for growing my own a few years ago. Although I was obviously not dealing, cruel drug war zealotry convicted me for ‘manufacturing’, as if I were supplying meth to most of Baltimore. I paid thousands to the legal system and got off with a fine and 2 years probation.

    My work place was more enlightened than some; they didn’t fire me, but some attitudes of fellow employees changed. I was lucky, the cop that arrested me at my home six months later told me he could have marched me out of my workplace in handcuffs.

    As a result, I could no longer get a security clearance, which forced me into an early retirement. I once read a 600 page textbook on object-oriented programming using Microsoft’s C# language with the Visual Studio interactive programming interface. I understood it well enough to land an offer at a job interview, but couldn’t get a security clearance.

    A heroin addict will sell his daughter’s soul for that next fix. There’s a reason for keeping such a person out of the workplace, especially if it’s business is defense. There’s also a very good business reason for retaining teachable, effective workers who can do the job required.

    I was lucky in one regard. I had been squirreling away spare change in a sock with dreams of finally getting a good guitar. I had reached over $700 and bought my guitar only a few months before. If they had found that, they would have confiscated it and used it as evidence I was dealing.

    I was already a NORML fan, and this experience re-affirmed my attitude.

  2. Ok MD… finally got to this first step.

    This time the pro-alcohol ambulance chaser Joe Vallario can’t stop us.

    Vote him out!!!!

  3. What an incredible moment leading up to November elections. The entire area in and out of our nations Capitol Decriminalized! (Except for Virginia, but they’re on the other side of the Patomac).
    Honestly, my first thought was finally! Some relief for all those poor people sitting in traffick on the Beltway! But then my mind wanders to my black and Latino friends who need this more. And then, in my heart, I pray that people like my Godmother who lived in Rockville won’t have to puke themselves to death on chemo because they don’t have to worry about getting arrested with the only non toxic medicine that can stop the nausea and vomiting with one toke from a vaporizer.
    All this energy in the air from recent laws like these to the recent resignation from Eric Holder is starting to smell like the piney fragrant aroma of some Trainwreck plowing through a soft meadow of emerald green hemp.

    Is this Mary-Juana Land? The District of Colombian Gold? Somebody pinch me! Is Heaven on Earth really happening? Something tells me it’s gonna get a whole lot better…

  4. As the US Government is now releasing payment to physicians from big pharma, what is NORML doing to expose the payments from big pharma to these ‘heavily credentialed’ and self-proclaimed experts spreading falsehoods about marijuana while protecting their clients?

  5. It seems like a tiny baby step but at least it is in the right direction…

    It is bothersome that there is no legal way to get cannabis and if you have a pipe or bong or rolling papers with which to consume it, they still consider that to be a criminal offense. What idiots…

    Still, I live in Virginia and our laws here are some of the worst in the country. For that reason, I want to encourage every Virginian out there reading this to help get Robert Sarvis elected this November. He is the only candidate that doesn’t think we should all be arrested! Get out and vote – no lazy excuses!

  6. I am a 50 year old male with Arachnoiditis ( a condition of scarred nerves inside my spinal column which is incurable, and characterised by chronic, constant, SEVERE, Pain. Were I in many of the states that have a REAL MMJ program my condition would EASILY qualify me for MMJ as it does for many of my fellow sufferers around the country, but in Maryland, most Pain Management Doctors will not allow it’s use and because I am tested for my Opiate levels to ensure that I am not using too much or too little , or any non-prescribed Opiates, they also test for MJ and will stop treating me for testing positive for it… I would like to try to use it to REDUCE my dependency on Opiates, but for whatever reason, I am prohibited from doing so…I am an excelent and trained Debater and my Father was a former Lobbyist in Maryland and WISH I could tell my story in front of more Politicians so that they might understand the stupidity of not getting a LEGITIMATE MMJ program running in this state, or, better yet, legalizing it entirely. I have used Marijuana in my College days and several times since, and now , because I took a chance a few times and used some since my medical problems began, I can attest to the many helpful features of it.

  7. When I read what people are quoting here from state to state in our great American nation, I am greatfully encouraged by our individual influence in our home states. Here, in Texas, where I now call home, Wendy Davis just ripped Greg Abbott up in their debate. No marijuana or failed drug laws mentioned this time around, but Wendy clearly won the battle.
    Voting is SOOOOOoooooo important this November 4th in a Texas. The gap has closed for marijuana decriminalization… Much less legalization… For the Great State of Texas. We have a chance to hit prohibition where it really hurts… Let’s copy the Texas NORML voter guide and send it to everyone we love…
    And if you have a NORML chapter in your state, WTF are you waiting for?!?!
    Get the TRUTH and SPREAD it like cannibutter on warm hemptoast!! How much time will it really cost you to use some of your Boss’ ink without them knowing? It’s the American way! Disclaimer: (Add up the cost of toner in case you get caught!)
    God already Blessed the marijuana movement; It’s up to us to pave the way!

  8. To walk into a Dr. Office free of their death drugs, and only Cannabis products in your system, you’re in better health, then they are; besides the sever pains, Athritis, broken bones, and some more stuff; you have regained your intellect, standing before that Dr. was a Cannanbis using sister, Gods medicine is, what it is..you know something My Dr. Cones from a country that sales the good stuff. What are some of these Doctors doing they are NOT prescribing Marijuana for patients who are in Pain Management.
    Most never get a prescription..these Dr. gang up on you like its a big fat joke for us. They can afford to use and get the best on the market..go home toke all they want, never get tested..walk away from the law..and feed you useless talk..my own situation was like this. Leaglize it, and take this bs off schedule 1 nonsense once and for all! These Doctors need a wake-up call, and so does Maryland. We need to work together on this! We have only one person who believed they could make a difference Heather MIZEUR, oh yeah that’s right she was for leaglizing MJ..and Maryland cut her out like a bad red stain. So what she is married to a female. Who else do you have that Norml picked to do the job for you..we want all this red tape removed. Are you going to let Maryland keep on giving us the soft shoe shufful, and drag this ajenda down another rabbit trail, and for how much longer, people.Or maybe Maryland does not need the revenue..hell our people need healing now; since our doctors don’t think so..remember money talks and bs walks..where are you putting your money so that it works for all of us in the State of Maryland.if this is the State for Lovers..Prove it in November..if you have to write her name on that ballot!!!
    Maryland needs to move forward on this issue, which effect everybody!

  9. Eric Holders replacement needs to be an American Indian.

    If you have cancer or plan to have cancer I strongly suggest you help legalize cannabis so you can have another tool in your toolbox. Is it the answer to everything? NO it is not. But to arrest and incarcerate people for cannabis or hemp is a stupid law.

    Don’t blame your local police they didn’t write the laws, if you want justice and peace, than rally during this election and help change our culture of arrest and racism. Vote, if you don’t vote this year than go back inside and wait for the police to break down your door.

  10. Lets be honest with this deal. Most who smoke have purchased an ounce or half oz. Florida for instance makes the gram count just under a half ounce making for stiff penalties for even a half oz… It is obvious that they are rigging the gram age so most could still be arrested. They do not want to miss an opportunity to make an arrest count. This is looking like they are doing some great deal but still keep the doors open to make payed probation money and fines. They still want to criminalize the citizens for doing nothing. These creeps have kept this sham going for 70 years and do not want to give up the ghost. America the great champion of freedom wants to keep turning our country into a penal colony for profit. America has over 900 people in jail out of a 100,000.
    Japan has 28 people out of 100,000 in jail. OH THE FREEDOM!!

  11. @ Ray,
    Hey, that’s a great idea. Contact Diane Humetewa’s office in Arizona. She was recently elected as a Federal Judge and would be an excellent choice for Attorney General

  12. HONORABLE DIANE J. HUMETEWA
    United States District Court
    Sandra Day O’Connor U.S. Courthouse, Suite 625
    401 West Washington Street, SPC 81
    Phoenix, AZ 85003-2161
    Phone: (602) 322-7600

    NORML could support Diane Humetewa if she accepted nomination for Attorney General.

    I just conducted a little research on her background, and I think she was born for the role of Attorney General. She is a staunch defender of American Indians and immigrants who are disproportionately incarcerated by flawed laws from much more than our drug policy. The following is an excerpt that Federal Judge Diane Humetewa wrote from the ATTORNEY GENERAL’S ADVISORY SUBCOMMITTEE
    ON BORDER AND IMMIGRATION LAW ENFORCEMENT
    PRESENTED TO THE
    UNITED STATES SENTENCING COMMISSION
    MARCH 13, 2008
    link:

    http://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/amendment-process/public-hearings-and-meetings/20080313/Humetewa_testimony.pdf

    “…we believe there is one additional factor that has already impacted the fairness, and
    will increasingly do so in the future, of current 2L1.2(b) or the application of
    Option One. That factor is the disappearance of the complete records necessary to
    make the factual and legal determinations required by the SOC’s. More and more
    often when we request court records pertaining to a suspect’s records, we are
    getting, at best, an abstract of the conviction record. Sometimes we get nothing.
    That piece of paper will usually include the defendant’s name and enough other
    identifying information that will assure that it can be linked to our suspect. Also
    included will be the date of sentence and the actual sentence imposed. Finally,
    there will be some description of the offense and statute of conviction, but the
    information is often generic rather than specific, leading to an inability to identify
    the specific charge that would serve as the predicate for the SOCs. In many
    instances, the abstract will only give a statute number or maybe combine that with
    a generic name for the offense.”

    It is clear from Federal Judge Humetewa’s record that she is the BEST candidate for Attorney General. A Hopi Indian woman who has battled to defend disproportionate sentencing fueled by a lack of representation in Federal Judges and the reward and “kickbacks” judges too often accept from private prison lobbies.
    Judge Humetewa can help us transition into a Post-Prohibition era that doesn’t allow prison lobbies to use fabricated “previous offenses” to judge our character just to meet and fill unjust prison quotas.
    I’m no president, but I will call her office tomorrow to ask her if she is willing or at least interested in accepting the job as Attorney General. I would be honestly surprised if President Obama isn’t already considering her, but there are plenty of lobbies involved in electing nominees for Attorney General.
    Ray, if you can contact Change.org, perhaps a public petition is in order. I will post here tomorrow if I can get a response out of her office. I am convinced that this is the woman we need as our next Attorney General.

  13. Ohio’s been decrim for decades but we might as well be next in line to Virginia. Decrim means NOTHING as you’re still considered an “offender” and as such, you are liable to having this show up on background checks (even though it may not be a criminal record it will still be there for ppl to see), you can lose your driver’s license, lose professional license, lose your job, be disqualified for other things you might want to do, like get appropriate medical treatment or get an organ transplant.

    Also, it still means that in order to enjoy your smoke you have to come in contact with someone who’s probably technically a felon(if nothing else then for the amount of weed they keep in stock and sell), you don’t know what you’re getting (everything from 90% seedsnstemz to ditchweed laced with crack or synthetic mj)and your product may come from people in mexico who have beheaded innocent citizens for extortion or just to terrorize.

    Legalize weed a la Colorado and get rid of all of these problems.

  14. Heather could have been a candidate if she did not carry all the baggage of the democratic party.I won’t trade one freedom for another.The elections this year will hinder further progress for years to come without a federal reprieve no matter who gets in office.One step forward but not enough for the needy.

  15. Note, as @Miles says, “if you have a pipe or bong or rolling papers… they still consider that to be a criminal offense”– and with penalties ten times as stiff as just possessing herb.

    Clearly a gift to the $igarette companies, whose subsidiaries market the rolling papers! Because rolling papers are so much EASIER TO HIDE from your mom or the cop than a pipe or a bong!

    “To kids whose parents followed advice to keep them ignorant about cannabis, every joint and every picture of a joint is a $igarette advertisement.”

    Well what do you expect, Maryland (and Wash DC) is in the TOBACKGO BELT where they have a vested interest in (a) suppressing cannabis, which could replace tobacco, and (b) suppressing one-hitters or vaporizers which could replace the HIGH PROFIT $igarette format…

    @Galileo, have you thought about getting a street, transit or market performer license and use that GUITAR for profit or non-profit public performances? (Maybe make enough bucks to replace a Lord Employer drug test security clearance job, well we can dream eh?)

    Or set up your work room and make quasi-guitars and fiddles from salvaged wood, wire, plastic scraps? (Pre-Suzuki– for infants and toddlers too young to be trusted with a hundred dollar instrument…) See Wikiversity.org article: “Essential Preschool Part I, Eco-Education Toys”.

  16. People open up your eye…marijuana does more good than harm beside ppl are going to jail for an HERB. It’s good for so many things that ppl would rather that a risk of jail time and or fines. What does that tell you? It time to think outside the box. Stop thinking of your own selfish feeling and think about others. Sure you lowered the penalty….sure you gave a limited relief for some ppl but there are more ailments that need to be included and ppl are still being charged with marijuana accessories…which is stupid in itself of course paper and or a grinder or bong may be needed in weed use. It’s just a way to penalize ppl without being direct. Sometime maryland is so smart until they have no common sense. I love maryland a lot for its values and the educational system but this is not about either this is about common sense. Change the stigmatism about marijuana just like to did with homosexuality. Once upon a time iyou were a bad person but we have evolved. The attitude about marijuana needs to be changed as well. People are using batteries to get high on and others are using baths salts both of which are used every day but are killing ppl daily that something to be worried about. Marijuana would never do the damage that these things cause. Point is ppl will find a way to get high on what ever what do you do stop making batteries or sath salt lol I think not God made this herb to be used all you church/religious people I’m sure you agree but even some of you don’t want to acknowledge this. I suffer from pain from arthritis which also give me muscle spasms. I also duffer from depression until you know about that you can’t tell me I’m wrong for using what God has provided for a healing plant STOP being selfish and look at the greater good

  17. I pray that people like my Grandparent who lived in Rockville won’t have to puke themselves to death on chemo because they don’t have to worry about getting arrested with the only non toxic medicine that can stop the nausea and vomiting with one toke from a vaporizer.Sad thing is, neither canadate for Marylands Next Govenor are for legalization.

  18. Heather could have been a candidate if she did not carry all the baggage of the democratic party.I won’t trade one freedom for another.The elections this year will hinder further progress for years to come without a federal reprieve no matter who gets in office.One step forward but not enough for the needy. – See more at: http://blog.norml.org/2014/09/30/maryland-reduced-marijuana-possession-penalties-take-effect/#sthash.nCoPn0Lw.dpuf

  19. Voting is SOOOOOoooooo important this November 4th in a Texas. The gap has closed for marijuana decriminalization… Much less legalization… For the Great State of Texas. We have a chance to hit prohibition where it really hurts… Let’s copy the Texas NORML voter guide and send it to everyone we love…

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