With Gov. Martin O’Malley’s signature today on two bills passed by the legislature, Maryland decriminalized marijuana possession and becomes a full-fledged medical marijuana state.
House Bill 881 is the medical marijuana bill. It allows Maryland residents suffering from qualifying conditions to use medical marijuana upon a doctor’s recommendation. Possession limits and regulations governing cultivation and dispensary facilities will be determined by a state-sanctioned commission prior to implementation. The measure will officially go into effect on June 1.
Senate Bill 364 makes possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program. The measure will officially go into effect on October 1.
The Marijuana Policy Project was among groups pushing for both bills, but it isn’t resting on its laurels.
“It’s time for legislators to take a long, hard look at replacing marijuana prohibition with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed,” said MPP legislative analyst Rachelle Yeung. “Marijuana should be sold by licensed businesses, not criminals in the underground market.”
I predict that will happen in 2017, after the next two rounds of legalization initiatives start to convince legislators that they need to hop on the bandwagon.
By Phillip Smith