On Tuesday the Maryland State Senate approved a bill to decriminalize possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana. The bill would make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of $100. Currently, simple possession in Maryland results in a fine of up to $500 and could land an offender in prison for three months.
The decrim bill received bipartisan support in the Senate and passed by a 30-16 vote.
The bill’s sponsor, Senator Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), is concerned with overspending when it comes to simple pot possession charges. “It is a tremendous waste of resources,” Zirkin told the Baltimore Sun.
Co-sponsor Senator Allan Kittleman (R-Howard and Carroll) noted the 47,000 arrests statewide for pot possession in 2012.
Senator Nancy Jacobs (R-Harford) revealed she voted “yes” because her husband is a cancer patient, and now he can use small amounts of pot without fear of arrest.
“I think it's really important to people with family members who might have cancer to be able to do this,” Jacobs told the Senate.
The bill must now pass the House in order to reach the Governor’s desk.
Governor Martin O'Malley has yet to announce if he would sign the decrim bill, but his administration did announce earlier in March that it would no longer oppose the implementation of medical marijuana in Maryland, indicating Gov O'Malley may be mellowing when it comes to pot enforcement.
The decriminalization bill isn’t the only piece of pro-pot legislation making the rounds in Maryland. The State House Judiciary Committee is set to hold a hearing on a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana and regulate and tax it like alcohol.