Last Update: February 24, 2015
The Free State to consider legalizing, regulating marijuana
Legislative champions Del. Curt Anderson and Sen. Jamie Raskin have once again taken the lead on ending marijuana prohibition in the Free State. Introduced in February, twin bills HB 911 and SB 531 would legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and over. These bills would remove penalties for the use and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana and the cultivation of up to six plants, while allowing marijuana to be sold by a limited number of taxed, licensed, and regulated businesses.
MPP is proud to be a member of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, which is leading the charge for sensible marijuana policy in Maryland. This large and growing coalition includes the ACLU of Maryland, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, the League of Women Voters of Maryland, the Marijuana Policy Project, UFCW Local 400, the Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, and more than a dozen other organizations.
Other legislative action
Meanwhile, Sen. Bobby Zirkin, chairman of the powerful Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, has introduced a bill following up on his successful proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana. SB 517 would eliminate all penalties for the possession of marijuana paraphernalia. In addition, Del. Aruna Miller and Sen. Feldman are sponsoring HB 374 and SB 168, bills to expunge the criminal records of those previously arrested and charged for possession of marijuana that would no longer be considered a crime under current law.
2014: A year of reform
Last year saw several victories for marijuana policy reform in Maryland. On April 14, 2014, Gov. Martin O’Malley signed legislation to remove criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, along with twin bills that will finally provide qualifying patients with safe, legal access to medical marijuana.
Beginning on October 1, 2014, the decriminalization law created civil fines — rather than criminal penalties and possible jail time — for those possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana. Details are available here. Please thank our allies and champions in the General Assembly!
The 2014 medical marijuana law, empowering the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission to provide relief to patients without the participation of hospitals, went into effect on June 1. The state’s old 2013 medical marijuana law relied on teaching hospitals to become involved in the distribution of marijuana. Unsurprisingly, none have done so. The new, updated law allows dispensaries and growers to provide medical cannabis directly to registered patients whose certifying physicians recommend it.
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