Update - Wednesday, March 20, 2013: The Maryland Senate voted to decriminalize marijuana possession of up to ten grams of marijuana yesterday. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Robert Zirkin, a democrat from Baltimore, told the Washington Post that he was pleased with his colleagues and says the House would be smart to pass the legislation.
"Incarceration does not make sense [for small amounts]," he told the PostWashington Post newsroom.)
Original Post - Monday, March 18, 2013: A bill would make possession of ten grams or less a civil penalty with a fine of no more than $100 has passed through a first and second Senate reading, and is expected move on to the House with a final vote. The bill. The bill would take effect on October 1 if passed.
But according to the Washington Post, members of the House say they been reluctant to move forward and feel the senate is caught up in a wave of states reforming marijuana laws. (Editors note: Why is that a bad thing?)
The house is also considering several other marijuana-related proposals this session, including three plans that would allow state-regulated medical marijuana dispensaries to operate.
As we reported last week, the governor has already given a nod of approval to two related medical marijuana dispensary plans, HB1100 and HB1101 - which would establish state-run academic medical marijuana centers that would conduct research. The third dispensary option, HB302, would charge the Department of Health with regulating dispensaries and cultivation centers. In addition, HB302 would allow patients up to six ounces and twelve plants for personal use and cultivation.
A fourth bill, HB1453, would outright legalize possession and cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up and allow for licensing and taxing recreational marijuana storefronts. That bill is scheduled to be heard before the House tomorrow at 1 p.m.
As usual, the local police have come out against everything related to marijuana: "We do not support any watering down of any marijuana legislation," Vince Canales, a police union spokesman, told the Post. "Until it is legalized, we believe the penalties should be adhered to and enforced."
Unfortunately, the police might get their wish - though not necessarily for political reasons. According to the Post, there's a deadline of March 25 that the House must send the proposals over to the Senate or they'll be dead in the water. The Maryland legislative session ends April 8.