It was a big week in the world of Maryland criminal law as the Governor took on the death penalty and medical marijuana—two very hot topics. According to the Washington Post, Governor Martin O’Malley held a ceremony that lasted over two hours, signing 266 measures that passed in the last legislative session. But, the death penalty repeal and medical marijuana laws were likely the most popular.
The death penalty repeal follows in the footsteps of five other states that have stopped executing prisoners in the last several years. Here, those who sit on death row will have their sentences commuted to life without the chance of parole. But, the death penalty issue isn’t completely resolved. At least one group says it may hold a petition drive in an effort to put the issue before voters.
O’Malley has apparently been lobbying to end the death penalty for seven years. He calls it a costly and “ineffective deterrent”. But those who support state-sponsored killings believe the death penalty has its place. They would need to get 55,736 signatures by June 30 in order to get the issue on the ballot.
In the medical marijuana bill, distribution is limited to academic medical centers, who will be required to monitor patient usage and publish their findings. Though this isn’t as permissive as many state medical marijuana programs, it could result in findings that would help push other states towards medical marijuana legislation. In other words, with respected medical centers observing and reporting on the effects, there is a good chance for positive and well-respected medical findings.
Also signed into law is a cyberbullying bill that was introduced after a teenaged girl committed suicide after being bullied online. The bill makes cyberbullying a crime and was promoted by Ravens running back Ray Rice.
Laws change every single year and every year some aspect of the state criminal code is altered. Whether through lessening of penalties or (the more common) stiffening of penalties and brand new crimes, the body of criminal law seems to always be in flux.
This is just one reason why having a local defense attorney on your side can be a true asset when facing criminal charges.
If you are accused of a crime, whether it’s drug possession or assault, we may be able to help. Contact our offices today to discuss your case.