March 21, 2018, Maryland
In order to increase the amount of personal cannabis possession, the Maryland Senate has passed a bill this Monday to increase it to one ounce. The current limit of personal possession is 10 grams. Offenders with less than one ounce on their person will only be given civil penalties. While larger amount of possession will entail criminal charges.
The state senate passed the bill with 36 votes in its favor while 11 against. One of the Democratic senators who voted for the bill has made it clear to the media that he is not in favor of recreational legalization, but wants to make sure law enforcement duties in the state are rightly prioritized. He says that prison cells are for violent offenders and not for people smoking cannabis.
While the senators who voted against the bill want to persist with existing strict laws. For instance, GOP senator Robert G. Cassilly voted against the bill because he is of the thought that decriminalizing that much amount of weed possession is akin to legalization.
President of the Maryland Senate Assembly also voted against the bill because he thinks that amid national opioid crisis, decriminalizing weed further won’t send the right message. However, growing evidence shows that the states with medical cannabis program are less affected by the opioid epidemic. States like Connecticut are even considering adding opioid withdrawal as a qualifying medical condition for the administration of medical cannabis.
The recently passed bill also adopted measures to ensure the safe use of marijuana. One of its provisions has made pot consumption in vehicles a crime, whether by the driver or any passenger. It is similar to the regulation of alcohol consumption on roads.
Therefore, a Democratic senator has called the bill a good mix and match for better regulation of cannabis use. He also thinks that the current limit of 10 gm is very small and usually measured subjectively by law enforcement personnel. It’s imperative to note that this figure was chosen by the House Judiciary Committee without furnishing any good reason.
Aside from this decriminalization measure, some state lawmakers are also pushing for the adult-use legalization in Maryland. A constitutional amendment to legalize recreational cannabis can be put on the public ballot, which going to take place in November this year.
However, the question of legalization can only be put on the ballot with 60 percent approval from both houses of the state’s bicameral assembly. Kate Bill is a legislative expert with a cannabis advocate group The Marijuana Policy Project. In her conversation with a local television, she mentions that all the states but one legalized recreational cannabis through public voting. She thinks that the public is more concerned and aware of the issues as compared to lawmakers.
The bill will now be presented on the floor of the Maryland General Assembly for approval and amendments. From there, it will head to the Governor office for the final seal of endorsement to become a part of the state legislation.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]