Maryland House of Delegates Approves Marijuana Decriminalization

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director April 5, 2014

    Today, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 78 to 55 in favor of Senate Bill 364 which reduces the penalty for possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana from a criminal misdemeanor to a civil offense.

    Senate Bill 364 was originally amended by the House Judiciary Committee to simply form a task force to study the issue of marijuana decriminalization. However, this morning, under pressure from the House Black Caucus, the House Judiciary Committee reversed their vote and instead voted 13 to 8 to approve an amended version of SB 364. As amended by committee, the bill would make possession of 10 grams or less a civil offense with the first offense punishable by a $100. The fine for a second offense would be $250, and the fine for a third and subsequent offenses would be $500. The original Senate version set the fine at $100, no matter which offense it was. SB 364 is now expected to go to conference committee to resolve the differences between the version approved by the House and the one approved by the state Senate.

    Commenting on today’s vote, NORML Communication Director Erik Altieri stated, “This bill represents a great step forward in reversing the devastating effect current marijuana policies have on communities in Maryland. While the state must now move forward on the legalization and regulation of marijuana, we applaud Maryland legislators in taking action to end the 23,000 marijuana possession arrests occurring in the state every year.”

    According to a 2013 ACLU report, Maryland possesses the fourth highest rate of marijuana possession arrests per capita of any state in the country. Maryland arrests over 23,000 individuals for simple marijuana possession every year, at the cost over of 100 million dollars.

    NORML will keep you updated on the progress of this legislation.

    15 responses to “Maryland House of Delegates Approves Marijuana Decriminalization”

    1. Moxie says:

      Cheers to Maryland, and especially the black caucus for speaking truth to power.

    2. Jay says:

      Even though I’m from Indiana; it’s still good to hear that people will not be put in jail, but instead be fined for having a small amount of marijuana.
      I don’t think people understand how, not only is jail uncomfortable (as it should be) but it can be really dangerous.
      Guards cannot watch everyone all of the time, who knows what could happen. These dangerous things happen in an a 1 to 3 day jail time offence, and can happen in any other sentence as well.
      I wish those here in Indiana would please go and look at the bigger overnight jails (drunk tanks) before they vote or make a decision on decriminalizing a marijuana possession.

    3. Belal Sayed says:

      Sweet. Next step legalize witht the right to grow in home so big marijuana doesn’t screw us over like big tobacco.

    4. Galileo Galilei says:

      “…the devastating effect current marijuana policies have on communities in Maryland.”

      “When a darkie smokes marijuana, he thinks he’s just as good as a white man.” — HJ Anslinger

      Hooray for the House Black Caucus!

    5. wallace clark says:

      A Great day in the Free State. Now, will O’Malley sign it?

    6. A Wells says:

      NOW IF O’Malley would sign it, he has held up writing regs for medical use since it passed, Glad the Gen Assem. passed this, how about removal of convictions now?

    7. dudpud says:

      Two thumbs up, at least it’s a step closer to legalization.

    8. Fireweed says:

      Nope. Not good enough. Still suggests that there is something wrong with adults smoking marijuana, still subjects users to all kinds of sanctions, such as loss of professional license, and still means you have to get your weed from illicit dealers, many of whom are complete sketchballs, who have no reason to feel accountable and means you are still at risk of getting all kinds of shit mixed in with your pot, everything from synthetic marijuana to crack to dryer lint, and at very least you have no choice of what you get, which is often pressed dried out shit from Mexican ganglords that smokes like rope.

      Nothing short of full legalization and regulation in all 50 states will do.

    9. Caiboyy says:

      Hey i have a pending marijuana possession case in maryland. i know this is not going to become a law on the books for some time but will i be retro-actively taken off of probation when this law goes into action??

    10. Dannette says:

      OMalley said he is gonna sign it!