Jan 222016
 January 22, 2016

Maryland medical marijuanaThe Maryland House and Senate voted 86-55 and 29-17 Thursday to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of a bill intended to fix the state’s marijuana decriminalization law.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), removes criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The measure also imposes a new civil fine of up to $500 on public cannabis consumption. Gov. Hogan vetoed the bill in May 2015, after it was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates.

Maryland adopted a law in 2014 that was intended to decriminalize simple marijuana possession, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia.
A new poll released Thursday shows that the majority of Maryland voters support broader cannabis policy reform. A statewide survey of 818 registered voters conducted by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies found 53% favor a change in Maryland law to allow marijuana to be regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. Only 43% were opposed. The poll was conducted Jan. 11-16 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5%. The full results are available at www.mpp.org/Md2016poll.

Statement from the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, which supported SB 517:

“An overwhelming majority of Maryland voters do not want citizens to be subjected to jail time and a lifelong criminal record simply for using marijuana. The continued criminalization of paraphernalia in practice meant that people with small amounts of cannabis were still being arrested throughout the state, sometimes for nothing but the plastic bag containing the cannabis. This unfortunate shortcoming will now be fixed, thanks to the courage and support of our lawmakers.

“Gov. Hogan’s excuse for opposing this bill was misinformed, and we commend the legislature for seeing through it. We hope they also recognize that the people of Maryland want to go beyond decriminalization. Until cannabis is legal and regulated for adults, Marylanders who choose to consume a substance that is safer than alcohol will still be unfairly targeted for fines, too often in a racially biased way. Regulating cannabis like alcohol is the best policy option.”

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The Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland includes the ACLU of Maryland, African American Democratic Club of Montgomery County, Baltimore County Young Democrats, Baltimore Student Harm Reduction Coalition, CASA de Maryland, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Demand Progress, Equality Maryland, Harford County Young Democrats, International Women’s Cannabis Coalition-Maryland Chapter, Job Opportunities Task Force, Labor Network for Sustainability, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Libertarian Party of Maryland, Maryland Green Party, Marijuana Policy Project, Maryland Cannabis Industry Association, Maryland Justice Project, Maryland NORML, Maryland United for Peace and Justice, Maryland Working Families, Medical Cannabis Advocates of Maryland, Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, Montgomery County Young Democrats, Our America Initiative, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 400, and Veterans for Peace, Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter.

Learn more at http://www.MarijuanaPolicyInMd.org.

About Johnny Green

Johnny Green is a marijuana activist from Oregon. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Public Policy. Follow Johnny Green on Facebook and Twitter. Also, feel free to email any concerns.
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  • michael_ellis

    Nice to know the dragon doesn’t always win. Still hoping for the tide of sanity to spread further south.

    • http://twitter.com/ng_480 *NormalGamer*

      In time, it will; little by little, we’ll get there.

      • michael_ellis

        At 65, my patience with inertia and willful stupidity is getting shorter and shorter. (but i do appreciate your hopeful outlook!)

        • exbioman

          And further North. Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Maryland?, have medical cannabis. D. C., cannabis is legal. Pennsylvania- Nothing. Pa. has always been the Flintstone state.

          • saynotohypocrisy

            Support for medical cannabis is close to 90% in PA. Their legislature’s lack of respect for democracy is as nauseating as their lack of respect for human rights.

          • Nathaniel

            Entrenched politicians in a place as old as the east coast is a hard tree to climb. I have had the joy of living on the west coast my entire life and no nothing else, but I have seen politicians simply working for themselves and folks still vote them into office. Odd phenomena.
            I feel for you guys and gals out there.

          • jim heffner

            Less than five years ago you couldn’t find a positive comment on legalization articles in the local PA media. Check it out now. Look at the ground swell in places like Texas and even Utah. I’m all for instant gratification but anticipation makes it sweeter.

        • Denny

          Trust me, your patience will further diminish as you add candles to your BD cakes…and I’m speaking from experience.
          But it is somewhat refreshing not particularly giving a rip about a lot of stuff that used to be annoying.

          • jim heffner

            I’m an impatient person, at 72, but there’s always more than one perspective. I’m all for the inertia of 12,000 years of the human use of Cannabis versus the pimple in time of 80 years of de facto prohibition. I get a little nervous when I look at my bucket list and see ‘growing legally for my own use where ever I chose’ especially here in Floriduh. I have to remind myself that the rate of change is accelerating and our past tactical defeats are becoming strategic advantages.

          • Fungi Sclerotia 1427

            The “pimple in time” of
            80 yrs of de facto prohibition is really a BOIL
            and it needs to be LANCED!

  • malcolmkyle

    From Wikipedia:

    “On June 22, 2015, Hogan announced to the press that he has been diagnosed with an advanced and aggressive form of lymph node cancer. As announced five months later on November 16, 2015, intensive chemotherapy had put the disease into remission.”

    Cannabis may be his only hope when his cancer re-emerges.

  • Nathaniel

    Heaven forbid folks do what their constituents wish them to do. Wonderful work on the legislature’s part to go the extra mile and tell the governor that he is not dictating policy because of his biases or his corruptions.
    Another win in the bag!

  • http://protonboron.com/portal/power-grid-frequency-meter/ M. Simon

    Regulating cannabis like tomatoes is the best policy option.

  • saynotohypocrisy

    Unfortunately Hogan is quite popular, and at this point looking likely to be reelected in 2018. If the legislature wants to legalize weed, or authorize a referendum to let voters have the final say (like they did on gay marriage), they’re going to need 60% support to overcome his veto. He doesn’t care what science says about cannabis, he knows better. And he ain’t interested in discussing it.

    • m, wilson

      He will not have a choice once the Heroin and Addiction Bill is pass. All of those people, who receive jail time for a medical conditions.