As of the first of October, Maryland has adopted a new law that decriminalizes the possession of marijuana in any amount less than 10 grams. While advocates of legalization and many others support this measure as a first and necessary step towards even more progressive marijuana laws in the future, there are those who are worried about what this means for possession and other drug cases in the present: prosecutors. Read on to find out what exactly has prosecutors so worried about this new law, and what the law means for marijuana possession cases overall.
Prosecutors in many different Maryland jurisdictions are finding fault left and right with the new decriminalized possession law, not even a month after it was first put into effect. One of the major complaints that they have been making is that the new law is inherently too difficult to enforce: police officers who would be the first to identify the drug, they say, have no easy way to accurately measure the amount of marijuana in order to ensure that it is under 10 grams. Prosecutors contend that this means many people will get away with having an amount of marijuana over the decriminalized limit without any consequences. However, what they neglect to take into account is the fact that, with the advent of this law, police stations statewide have taken this factor into account and have taken steps to familiarize officers with exactly what 10 grams or less of marijuana looks and feels like. By taking these steps, police will have a practical working knowledge that should equip them to make arrests only in cases where the limit has been passed. Moreover, the bigger message is that Maryland is slowly losing interest in small amounts of marijuana. The legislature is learning that our limited police and judicial resources are better spent in other areas of the law that do not involve this victimless crime. Police would be well advised not to worry about small amounts of marijuana, whether it be 10 grams or a little over. They should focus their attention on the bigger, more meaningful stuff.
What the Law Means for Criminal Cases
Now that small amounts of marijuana have been decriminalized, this leads to another reality that prosecutors are not happy about: there will be fewer and fewer criminal convictions. It has been estimated that thousands of cases will now never be heard, cases that in the past would have led to an individual having a black mark on their criminal record for possessing even the smallest amount of marijuana. While decriminalization is not equivalent to legalization- a citation can still be issued for possessing under 10 grams of marijuana- the fact of the matter is that decriminalizing these small amounts will free up resources to prosecute far more serious crimes and allow individuals who have only committed this minor offense to receive proportionate treatment instead of undergoing lengthy and unnecessary criminal trials and/or rehabilitation. As CNN’s Dr. Gupta has recognized, these small amounts of marijuana are not the enemy, no more than alcohol at least.
Bruce Robinson & Associates
Bruce Robinson & Associates is a criminal defense law firm based in Baltimore, MD. If you have been accused of criminal charges, including drug possession, and need to seek aggressive counsel, Robinson & Associates is here to help. For more information and to schedule your free consultation, give Robinson & Associates a call at 443-524-7395 or visit us at www.marylandcriminallawyer.com. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.