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Maryland House Panel Rejects Marijuana Decriminalization, Sets Study

MARYLAND: Holding out against rising public sentiment in favor of less stringent marijuana laws, the House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to reject a move to treat possession of small amounts of the drug as a civil offense.

Instead, the committee amended the Senate-passed decriminalization bill to turn it into a measure setting up a task force to study possible changes in marijuana laws.

The move effectively ends efforts in Maryland this year to liberalize laws on recreational use of marijuana. The House and Senate have both passed bills to create a workable medical marijuana program, but they have to work out differences before Monday night if the bill is to pass.

Maryland Senate Expected To Vote On Decriminalizing Small Amounts Of Marijuana

MARYLAND: Maryland’s Senate is scheduled to vote Friday on a measure that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. If approved, the bill goes to House of Delegates, where similar legislation last year died in committee.

The Senate bill would remove criminal penalties for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, enough to roll about two joints, and impose a civil fine of $100 instead. Violators would receive citations similar to traffic tickets; they could either pay the fine in full or request a trial date in District Court.

Under the current law, a person in possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana would be subject to a felony conviction, up to 90 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.


Maryland Lt. Gov. Brown Discusses Measures On Marijuana

MARYLAND:  Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Friday that Colorado and Washington state should be applauded for moving ahead with legalizing marijuana but he wants to learn more about what happens in those states before he would support legalizing it in Maryland.

Brown, who is running in the Democratic primary for governor, talked about measures relating to marijuana during a meeting with Baltimore lawmakers.

“There is a growing level of support in Maryland and this country for the legalization of marijuana, and so I applaud Colorado in the sense that we now have the benefit of observing the results of their decision … what the pitfalls and problems may be, so that whatever we might ultimately do, if that’s the direction we go in, there may very well be best practices,” Brown said in an interview after the meeting.

Still, Brown underscored that he is not ready to endorse full legalization in Maryland yet. He said he is advocating a “slow-as-we-go” approach.


Maryland Medical Marijuana Program Still 18 Months Away

MARYLAND:  The chairman of a commission set up to oversee the implementation of a medical marijuana program told lawmakers Thursday that the initiative is at least 18 months away from offering pain relief to the first patients.

Even with that much time, it is by no means certain that the program will get off the ground, said Dr. Paul W. Davies, a pain relief specialist who heads the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission. The panel is charged with writing the rules for the program, which limits the program to five academic medical centers.

Davies told the House’s marijuana work group that even under the best-case scenario it would take 1 1/2 to 2 years after July 1 for a medical center to set up a program and to make an arrangement for a grower to provide the marijuana.


Maryland Gov. O'Malley Opposes Decriminalizing Marijuana As Leaders Align In Support Of Minimum Wage Hike

MARYLAND:  Gov. Martin O’Malley said Wednesday before the start of the 2014 General Assembly session that he was “not much in favor” of decriminalizing marijuana.

O’Malley appeared for about 45 minutes on a broadcast of WEAA’s Marc Steiner Show from the Governor Calvert House in Annapolis.

While O’Malley said he believes a medical marijuana law approved last year could get more attention this session, he said he wasn’t a fan of decriminalizing the drug.

“Seeing what drug addiction has done to our state and in our city,” O’Malley said. “This drug, its use and its abuse can be a gateway”

With the General Assembly set to convene later in the day, O’Malley responded to a number of questions Wednesday morning on issues that will face the General Assembly in 2014.


Maryland Gubernatorial Candidate Mizeur To Back Legalized Marijuana

MARYLAND: Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather R. Mizeur is calling for the legalization and regulation of marijuana, promising to use the tax revenue it would generate to pay for an expansion of pre-kindergarten education.

Mizeur, a state delegate from Montgomery County, plans to spell out a detailed proposal Tuesday on how Maryland could control the cultivation and distribution of the drug.

“Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco,” she said in an interview. “It has been a failed policy for us as a nation to criminalize the use of this substance.” [Read more…]