A bill that would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana has been introduced into the Maryland legislature by Senator Bobby Zirkin. And while this would seem as a promising move at first blush, many don’t believe Maryland is ready for any truly liberation of the plant.
Currently, possession of less than an ounce is considered a misdemeanor offense and is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and $500 in fines. The new proposal would make possession an infraction—punishable by only a fine of $100, no jail time or arrest.
“I don’t see marijuana legalization forthcoming in Maryland,” said Christ Foreman to Diamondback Online. “I just don’t see any signs of it.” Foreman, and many others, just doesn’t think Maryland is ready, that although the state is considered one of the more “liberal”, that attitude doesn’t extend to marijuana.
Last legislative session, lawmakers had a bill that would have legalized marijuana for medicinal purposes. While the watered down medical marijuana bill made it through the House of Delegates, the Senate didn’t vote on it at all, signaling their lack of enthusiasm. Delegate Dan Morhaim says, however, that he plans to reintroduce the bill later this session.
“I think this should be in the hands of a doctor-patient relationship, not a dealer-patient relationship,” said Morhaim.
Even though some lawmakers support medical marijuana, many of those same representatives don’t feel as strongly about recreational marijuana.
“To the extent that it’s something that people want to do, to the extent that it’s an abusable drug, I really don’t agree with legalization for recreational purposes,” said Alan Lehman, a criminology professor from the University of Maryland, echoing the sentiments of many Maryland lawmakers.
Still, decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing. With decriminalization, as proposed by Zirkin, marijuana remains illegal, just not as serious of an offense. While it could strike a middle-ground, a compromise, lawmakers would definitely need some encouraging from their constituents.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) has developed a form letter for Maryland citizens to send their Delegates and Senators. If you want to add your list to the number who support marijuana decriminalization, follow this link.
In the meantime, if you are caught in possession of marijuana, you will face jail time. For help with any drug charge, contact my office today.