Maryland Senate Okays Marijuana Decriminalizationby Phillip Smith
Mar. 20, 2013
A bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana in Maryland passed the state Senate Tuesday by a nearly two-to-one margin. The vote was 30-16.
Sponsored by Sens. Bobbi Zirken (D-Baltimore County) and Allan Kittleman (D-Carroll County), Senate Bill 297, would make possession of 10 grams (about a third of an ounce) or less a civil offense punishable by no more than a $100 fine. Under current state law, possession of 10 grams or less is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.
A state legislative fiscal and policy analysis of the bill estimated that it would result in small losses in fine revenues, small savings from decreases in the number of jail days, and would significantly reduce caseloads in the Office of the Public Defender.
The bill now proceeds to the House, where it has been assigned to the Judiciary Committee. If it successfully passes out of committee, it would have to get a House floor vote, and pass it, before being sent to Gov. Martin O'Malley (D).