Maryland Lawmakers Decriminalize Marijuana

Possession of small amounts of marijuana will no longer be a crime in Maryland under a law passed Monday and sent to Gov. Martin O’Malley for his expected signature.

Adults caught with less than 10 grams of pot will get a citation that will be treated like traffic ticket and pay a fine, but they could no longer be sent to jail. O’Malley said he plans to sign the law, a reversal from views he held as he gained prominence as Baltimore’s tough-on-crime mayor.

“As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the public will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety,” O’Malley said in a statement. “I now think that decriminalizing possession of marijuana is an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health. Such an acknowledgment in law might even lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens.”

More than a dozen other states have already decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana, as advocates push to treat minor drug offenses as a public health issue and not a crime.

Advocates mobilized this year to stop criminalizing minor pot offenses, joined by the NAACP and the ACLU in arguing that marijuana possession laws are unfairly applied. They pushed studies showing African-Americans who use marijuana are twice as likely to be prosecuted for the offense than their white counterparts.

– Read the entire article at The Baltimore Sun.