A measure to help improve diversity in Maryland's new medical marijuana industry received final approval by the General Assembly on Monday, as lawmakers worked toward a midnight deadline when the legislative session is scheduled to end.
Maryland Marijuana News and Politics
Cardin, Benjamin L. - (D - MD)
509 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
(202) 224-4524 Contact: www.cardin.senate.gov/contact/
Mikulski, Barbara A. - (D - MD)
503 Hart Senate Office Building Washington DC 20510
Send. Mikulski is retiring in 2016
State marijuana law from FindLaw.com:
Marijuana possession that used to send people to jail and into Maryland's criminal justice system could now amount to nothing more than a civil penalty.
In 2014, Maryland passed a new marijuana law that decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill will make possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.
Possessing less than 10 grams of pot used to be enough to get you locked up and have a criminal record. Not anymore. Note that the 10 gram threshold is an important one. Police aren't going to be carrying scales with them to weigh the drug, so in essence, they need to eyeball it. If you possess less than 10 grams, you are subject to a civil penalty that replaces the criminal penalty of $500 and/or 90 days in jail.
Marijuana Policy Project on Maryland:
Last update: June 23, 2015
Gov. Hogan vetoes sensible legislation; General Assembly may consider override in January
The Maryland General Assembly had a busy 2015 as it relates to reforming the Free State’s marijuana policies. The following were sent to Gov. Larry Hogan (R):
- SB 517, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin, would have removed the penalty for marijuana paraphernalia and imposed a civil fine of up to $500 for public smoking. Unfortunately, this incredibly modest proposal was vetoed by the governor..
- The Second Chance Act would allow individuals who have been convicted of certain non-violent misdemeanors, such as possessing marijuana or paraphernalia, to apply to have those records shielded from certain records requests from potential employers or schools. The application could not be filed until three years after any sentence was served. Thankfully, Gov. Hogan saw fit to sign this sensible bill.
- HB 490 would improve Maryland’s medical marijuana law, including by removing the requirement that patients be enrolled in a medical marijuana research program at an academic hospital. Gov. Hogan also signed this bill.
The end of session also brought about the end of the line for good bills. Lawmakers chose not to move forward on legislation that would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol, but they advanced the conversation.
2014: A year of reform
Last year saw several victories for marijuana policy reform in Maryland. On April 14, 2014, then-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.
The decriminalization law replaced criminal penalties and possible jail time with civil fines for those possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana. Details are available here. Meanwhile, the 2014 medical marijuana law empowered the Natalie M. LaPrade Medical Marijuana Commission to provide relief to patients without the participation of hospitals. 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.
From 24/7 Wall Street:
The recently adopted Maryland Medical Marijuana State Program permits certified physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients diagnosed with certain conditions. As a result, the state’s first marijuana dispensary, Greenway Consultations, opened this past June. Still, the possession of more than 10 grams of pot is a misdemeanor in Maryland, and possession of less than 50 pounds with the intent to distribute carries a penalty of up to five years incarceration and fines up to $15,000.
Even so, there is a good chance Maryland is on track to legalize the substance. Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill supported by marijuana legalization advocates during the current legislative session. The Second Chance Act, under certain circumstances, permits individuals convicted of possessing marijuana, to have their arrest shielded from some records requests. As in most states on this list, a majority of Maryland residents support the legalization of marijuana.
Maryland Cannabis News