Maryland won’t be legalizing the possession and use of cannabis for adults this legislative session, but there is still hope for a decriminalization bill currently winding it’s way through the state legislature as well as slim chance of a medical marijuana program reform bill eking through.
Legislation that would have legalized limited amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up in both the Maryland state Senate and House failed to get enough votes this session.
But state Del. (and gubernatorial hopeful) Heather Mizeur’s bill that would make possession of up to ten grams pot a $100 ticketable fine instead of an arrestable crime. Mizeur says that the legislature is horribly out of touch with their constituents.
“People’s minds change, and we’re seeing this in public opinion polls throughout this state,” Mizeur told supporters at a rally yesterday.
An amended version of the bill that includes stipulations for treatment for repeat offenders.
The bill is expected to receive full approval from the state Senate later today and then move on to the state House by next week. Mizeur says the amendments aren’t needed, but that she’s willing to entertain them if it means making progress.
Another bill in the state legislature would help ease the heavily-restrictive medical marijuana pilot program in the state that has yet to (and likely will never) get off the ground. The program calls for limited numbers of patients to receive medicines as part of university-based trials. The problem is that the universities in the state want nothing to do with it out of fear of losing their federal funding. The program is so restrictive that most cannabis reform groups don’t even consider Maryland to be a true medical marijuana state.
A state House committee approved a bill yesterday that would allow physicians to write recommendations, though a state Senate panel has refused to move forward with a similar proposal on their end.
For MIzzeur, though, no real changes can come until Maryland voters stand up for themselves and stop electing people who don’t represent their beliefs.
“It’s likely to take an election and a mandate from voters to change old ways of thinking in Annapolis,” she said. “This year medical marijuana seems like the easy thing to do. Decriminalization seems like the middle path.”