Marijuana: Maryland pot decriminalization bill latest example of Amendment 64's impact

Yesterday, we highlighted a Pennsylvania proposal that mirrors Amendment 64, the Colorado measure whose proponents see as a template for nationwide marijuana reform. Today, a Maryland bill to decriminalize pot is the latest example of other states following in Colorado's footsteps -- but perhaps moving a bit more slowly.

Maryland Senate Bill 297, sponsored by Senator Bobby Zirkin, isn't as sweeping as A64 or the Pennsylvania proposal floated by state senator Daylin Leach, which would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.

bobby zirkin.jpg
Bobby Zirkin.
As you can see by the document below, adult possession of ten grams or less of marijuana would remain verboten. However, the penalty for such a violation would be transformed from a criminal offense to a civil one punishable by a fine of not more than $100.

Among those speaking in favor of SB 297 during a hearing today at 1 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Mountain before the Maryland senate's judicial proceedings committee is Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and a familiar figure during the Amendment 64 campaign. (He also spoke in favor of Leach's Pennsylvania measure yesterday.) Franklin is expected to note that Maryland spends over $236 million per year enforcing its marijuana laws according to figures provided by Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist.

If the legislation passes, Maryland will become the sixteenth state to decriminalize possession of marijuana in small amounts. Activists believe these numbers will put more pressure on the federal government to moderate its policies rather than lowering the boom on Colorado and Washington, which passed an A64-like measure in November, too.

Here's Maryland Senate Bill 297.

Maryland Senate Bill 297: Decriminalization of Marijuana

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana legalization proposal like Colorado's coming to Pennsylvania: More states to follow?"

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21 comments
commonsenseguy
commonsenseguy

This is great news! Hope this passes! After we get this passed, next we need to control and regulate just like we do with alcohol and tobacco. Marijuana prohibition is just as terrible as alcohol prohibition was in the 1920's. It causes more harm than good. Stop wasting money arresting and incarcerating otherwise law abiding citizens!  VOTE YES ON SB 297!

KathleenChippi
KathleenChippi topcommenter

Isn't as sweeping like Colorado's?     1 ounce and 1/4gram in CO is STILL a petty offense ticket-able up to $100--just like PA's 1 ounce and 1/4th gram-and theirs covers up to 10 ounces.  I'm pretty sure 10 ounces in CO will be more than a $100 ticket....LOL---they are decriminalizing--not lying like the 64 scampaign promising legalization while allowing 3-5-7-9 member city councils, county commissioners and Board of Trustee's the power to ban businesses and overturn the will of the people to make A64 into accomplishing getting rid of the $100 fine for one ounce or less and nothing more.  Kentucky's 8 ounce or under decrim is better than CO, at this point.....

Case
Case

So Lyin' Brian Vicente and Mendacious Mason Tvert are now exporting their model of regulation and lies to other states. I guess there are clueless stoners in every state willing to surrender all their rights for a pathetic ounce. Good luck with that!

bongsucker
bongsucker

This has nothing to do with amendment 64 or Colorado.

Why does Westword lie so much?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

A64 surrendered Total Control of Marijuana over to the same anti-drug Law Enforcement and Government Bureaucrats who've been running the Drug War for the last 40+ years ... all for a pathetic ounce.

Makes about as much sense as the Palestinians surrendering total control of their future to Israel... all for a single olive tree.


irq77
irq77

Decriminalization is the wrong way.  Legalization and regulation is the right way.

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt topcommenter

@KathleenChippi What can you NOT do now that you could do before A64 passed?  

Were you running around with pounds in the trunk of your car back when marijuana was 'legal' before A64 passed?

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt topcommenter

@Case Why not travel down to good old' Oklahoma with that pathetic ounce and see what happens when you get caught with it?

commonsenseguy
commonsenseguy

@irq77 Totally agree that we need to approach marijuana policy in a manar similar to our alcohol and tobacco policies. That's where I hope we end up ASAP. However, for now I'd be happy to see SB 297 pass as a stepping stone. Let's stop wasting money and ruining lives arresting and locking up otherwise law abiding citizens with the passage of this bill. Then, lets look into control/regulate!

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@irq77 

Regulation =/= Legalization

Only clueless stoners would claim otherwise.


DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@commonsenseguy "in a manar [sic] similar to our alcohol and tobacco policies"

Idiot. 

1) Tobacco and Alcohol policies are WILDLY divergent and incompatible.

2) Marijuana AIN'T Alcohol ... never was, never will be.

Only an idiot would want "harmless" marijuana which "never killed anyone" REGULATED and CONTROLLED like DEADLY ALCOHOL which harms and kills 10s of THOUSANDS of people every year.


comomonsenseguyy
comomonsenseguyy

@DonkeyHotayDo you really believe that controlling and regulating is WORSE than the total prohibition we have now? 

This is all besides the point. This bill is for decriminalization which is a fantastic first step in the right direction. 

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