Maryland has the fourth highest arrest rate for marijuana possession in the U.S. according to a report released in June 2013 by the American Civil Liberties Union. In keeping with larger national trends, the report also found that black people accounted for 58% of marijuana possession arrests and were more than three times more likely to be arrested than whites despite using marijuana at comparable rates. But change is in the air.
The state’s senate committee approved a bill to replace criminal penalties for the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana with a $100 civil fine, similar to a parking ticket. The decision follows Washington DC’s similar move to decriminalize marijuana earlier this month.
Nancy Rosen-Cohen, executive director of the Maryland branch of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence said “branding someone a criminal” for possessing marijuana causes a “lifetime of harm.”
“A criminal record of any kind becomes a barrier to employment and housing, which hurts both the individual and whole families,” she said in a press release.
Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved the bill 8-3 with bipartisan support on Friday. Now, the measure will receive a full vote in the Senate, which approved a similar measure last year with bipartisan support.
– Read the entire article at AlterNet.