This week, Maryland state senators passed a bill that would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, making the possession of up to 10 grams of the drug a civil offense, punishable by the maximum penalty of $100.
In a bipartisan vote, the bill passed 30-16 in the Maryland Senate on Tuesday.
Howard County blogger Dennis Lane wrote on Wednesday, “A tax on joints is another way to look at it.”
Howard County senator Allan Kittleman (R – Howard, Carroll) was a co-sponsor of the bill. Kittleman told NBC Washington that there were 47,000 arrests for marijuana possession in Maryland last year. He said that police and prison resources could be better used on other things, according to the report.
Ed Kasemayer (D – Howard) joined Kittleman in voting for the bill.
James Robey (D – Howard), however did not vote for the bill. No one picked up the phone at either of Robey’s listed telephone numbers when Patch attempted to contact him on Friday.
While the bill easily passed the Maryland Senate, it appears the House may kill it, according to a Capital Gazette report.
House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Annapolis) told the Gazette he would be more likely to support a bill that would create a medical marijuana program. He told the paper he was concerned, as a father, about the lessening of the law and how it affects kids.
Fourteen states, including Massachusetts, New York, Minnesota, and North Carolina, have already made the move to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. And this past November voters in Washington and Colorado voted to legalize recreational use of the drug.
Issues revolving around decriminalization and legalization include the possibility of drivers who are high on marijuana, the drug becoming easier for kids to obtain, as well as health concerns.
Washington has set a limit that mandates drivers should not have more than a THC concentration of 5.00 nanograms per milliliter, while Colorado is still looking for answer to the issue, according to CBS 4 in Denver.
A January 2013 article in the New York Times on the health effects of the drug found fewer than 10 percent of marijuana smokers become dependent on the drug, and that while it does contain carcinogens, such as those found in tobacco, most people smoke less marijuana than they do cigarettes.
The article noted that users who begin smoking the drug before the age of 16 have performed worse on cognitive tests of brain function than those who start smoking later in adolescence.
What do you think, should small amounts of marijuana be decriminalized in Maryland?