Maryland: Lawmakers Approve Measures Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties, Expanding Access To Medical Cannabis

Maryland: Lawmakers Approve Measures Reducing Marijuana Possession Penalties, Expanding Access To Medical Cannabis

Annapolis, MD: Maryland lawmakers approved legislative measures this week revising the state’s medical cannabis law and reducing penalties involving non-medical marijuana possession.

Lawmakers approved Senate Bill 364, reducing minor marijuana possession penalties to a civil offense. Democrat Gov. Martin O’Malley acknowledged that he intends to sign the bill into law. The bill amends existing 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).

According to a recent ACLU report, Maryland possesses one of the highest rates of marijuana possession arrests per capita of any state in the country.

The new law will take effect on October 1, 2014.

Maryland lawmakers on Monday also approved separate legislation, House Bill 881, amending the state’s existing medical marijuana law, which had been largely nonfunctional. The pending measure seeks to allow for qualified patients who possess a recommendation from their physician to obtain cannabis for therapeutic purposes from state-licensed producers and distributors.

Twenty states and Washington, DC have enacted similar medical cannabis laws, while more than a dozen states have enacted fine-only penalties for minor marijuana possession offenses.

For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.