If you’ve been following the saga involving the decriminalization of marijuana, you may know that it has now passed through the house and the senate; Maryland’s congress is ready to start cracking down on more serious laws and start the journey towards legalization. The house voted last Saturday to approve the bill with a majority of 78-55 voting in favor. Though the bill had a difficult time getting through committee originally, it has passed pretty easily through both the house and the senate. Maryland isn’t ready to follow in the footsteps of the states that have legalized just yet, but it’s clear that our state legislators have realized that decriminalizing and eventually legalizing will be lucrative and will help police officers focus on real crimes in Maryland.
When Governor O’Malley was asked about the decriminalization, he said, “I now think that [it] 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.” It’s clear to see that he’s ready to move on from the war on drugs to more serious offenses. He also said in a statement that when the bill comes across his desk, he planned to sign it.
What does this mean for Marylanders in possession of marijuana once the law is official? It means that instead of being a criminal offense, possession of less than 10 grams of pot is now a civil offense. Senate slightly escalated the penalties from the original version of the bill. First time offenders will have to pay a $100 fine; second time offenders will pay a $250 fine; third time offenders will be liable for a $500 fine and may also have to go to court sanctioned counseling. Anyone under the age of 21 found in possession of marijuana will still have to appear in court. The original bill required those under the age of 18, rather than 21, to appear in court for a misdemeanor offense. Hopefully this decriminalization bill means the start to a more intelligent future for the state of Maryland: AKA legalization. It would make the state lots of money and save our police officers a whole lot of unnecessary hassle.
Until the bill officially passes and is signed, possession is still a crime. If you’re caught with marijuana or any other drug or alcohol and have charges levied against you, you should seek qualified counsel in an aggressive Maryland criminal lawyer. Bruce Robinson & Associates has the experience you need to help knock down the charges and get you back on your feet again.
To learn more about the decriminalization of marijuana in Maryland, or to schedule your free consultation regarding a DUI or criminal matter, give Robinson & Associates a call at 443-524-7395.
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