Yesterday, we highlighted a Pennsylvania proposal that mirrors Amendment 64, the Colorado measure whose proponents see as a template for nationwide marijuana reform. Today, a Maryland bill to decriminalize pot is the latest example of other states following in Colorado's footsteps -- but perhaps moving a bit more slowly.
Maryland Senate Bill 297, sponsored by Senator Bobby Zirkin, isn't as sweeping as A64 or the Pennsylvania proposal floated by state senator Daylin Leach, which would regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
As you can see by the document below, adult possession of ten grams or less of marijuana would remain verboten. However, the penalty for such a violation would be transformed from a criminal offense to a civil one punishable by a fine of not more than $100.
Among those speaking in favor of SB 297 during a hearing today at 1 p.m. Eastern/11 a.m. Mountain before the Maryland senate's judicial proceedings committee is Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, and a familiar figure during the Amendment 64 campaign. (He also spoke in favor of Leach's Pennsylvania measure yesterday.) Franklin is expected to note that Maryland spends over $236 million per year enforcing its marijuana laws according to figures provided by Jeffrey Miron, a Harvard economist.
If the legislation passes, Maryland will become the sixteenth state to decriminalize possession of marijuana in small amounts. Activists believe these numbers will put more pressure on the federal government to moderate its policies rather than lowering the boom on Colorado and Washington, which passed an A64-like measure in November, too.
Here's Maryland Senate Bill 297.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana legalization proposal like Colorado's coming to Pennsylvania: More states to follow?"