Annapolis, MD: Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley signed two separate pieces of legislation on Monday reforming the state's marijuana laws.
Senate Bill 364 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). The new depenalization law takes effect on October 1, 2014.
House Bill 881 provides for the state-licensed production and dispensing of marijuana to qualified patients who possess a written certification from their physician. The new law will take effect on June 1, 2014, at which time the state shall establish a commission to draft rules and regulations overseeing the production and distribution of medical marijuana. However, the licensing program is not anticipated to be up and running until 2015.
Maryland is the 18th state to depenalize minor marijuana possession offenses to a non-arrestable offense. (Colorado and Washington have also enacted regulations allowing for the legal retail production and sale of the plant.) It is the 21st state to allow for the doctor-recommended access to cannabis therapy.
For more information, please contact Allen. St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, or Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director, at (202) 483-5500.