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Maryland Decriminalization Law Goes Into Effect

Governor Martin O’Malley celebrates with his patrons the decriminalization of marijuana in Maryland.
Governor Martin O’Malley

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Maryland Decriminalization Law Goes Into Effect

Today marks the official start of Maryland’s decriminalization law. Under Senate Bill 364, people can legally carry up to 10 grams of pot without the risk getting arrested and possibly facing jail time. Earlier this year, Democratic Senator Bobby Zirkin sponsored the bill, which reduces the severity of the charge for adults over the age of 18 being caught with marijuana. Shortly after, Governor Martin O’Malley signed the bill decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis for personal use into law.

Now, offenders over 21 will be fined $100 for a first offense and $250 for a second offense. Following a third offense, there will be a $500 fine and the offender will have to appear in court and possibly be assigned to mandatory time in a drug treatment program. People between the ages of 18 and 20, will have to go to court on the first offense and could be referred to a drug education course. Minors under the age of 18 are not protected under the decriminalization law.

Interestingly, the law doesn’t cover the possession of paraphernalia associated with smoking marijuana including rolling papers, pipes, bongs, vaporizers or rigs, so residents can still potentially be arrested if these items are discovered on them. Penalties for paraphernalia may be reduced or eliminated by next year.

This change in legislation, reducing cannabis possession from a criminal offense to a civil offense, will potentially save the state large amounts money by allowing law enforcement to spend less of the state’s finances on prosecuting people for small offenses. Additionally, thousands of Maryland residents will no longer face harsh penalties for having legal amounts of cannabis in their possession.

“As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the public will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety,” O’Malley said. “I now think that decriminalizing possession of marijuana is an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health.”

Maryland joins the 17 other states that currently have decriminalization laws in place including Washington, D.C. and Vermont. Governor O’Malley also recently signed House Bill 881, which allows qualified patients to have limited access to cannabis under the state’s medical marijuana program, making Maryland the 21st medical state.

What are the current cannabis regulations in your state? Tell us in the comments.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Gina

    October 3, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Marylander’s LEGALIZE Cannabis, Aka pot,, Mj!!!
    Decriminalizing only, lets them drag their feet even more.
    Go for the gusto!

  2. Gina

    October 3, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Where, the heck are the medical doctors who can write up the prescription for MD patientspatients located? So far all I have run into are brick walls with pain management doctors…they tell us go to DC and get you a doctor, and laugh like a bunch of hyenas on crack.

  3. Andy l

    October 3, 2014 at 9:46 am

    Pa did not legalize!!!! A bill to allow limited access medical marijauna passed through the Pa house however it need to still pass through the senate before medical access will be allowed

  4. Dan K

    October 2, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Washington State =)
    Medical Patient and THC wax enthusiast!
    I’m sorry America, but you need to open your eyes to the truth. 3 years of trusting this drug/PLANT and it’s completely transformed my views on life and how Rheumatoid Arthritis(my lab tested- diagnosed condition) is not a restriction on life with endless pain with endless HARMFUL and toxic chemicals being the only way to survive………learn which properties of the plant best serve your need, research the proper consumption/inhalation/topical application/etc, and watch the world of truth open your eyes to endless possibilities with such a harmless drug.
    If citizens need permits and classes to recreationally operate and carry a firearm safely, then why can’t we set up a system to help relate such a debatable topic?
    Sorry for the rant, but as Americans, we have WAY TOO MUCH other crap to worry about besides 1) safe form of health care that has HEALING PROPERTIES, 2) a form of stress relief and relaxation!
    Less stress, better health =)

  5. Ryan so

    October 1, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    leagalize Britain and bournemouth!!

  6. jJames

    October 1, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    PA LEGALIZED MEDICAL MARIJUANA BUT THE GOVERNOR DIDN’T WANT TO. HE DID IT FOR ELECTION… VOTE TOM WOLF!!!!!! Full FULL LEGALIZATION IN PA

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