General Assembly OK's Pot Decriminalization - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

General Assembly OK's Pot Decriminalization

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MARYLAND - Monday afternoon, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill to decriminalize the possession of 10 grams of less of marijuana.  The bill now heads to Governor O'Malley's desk and the governor has said he will sign the bill.

The bill passed with a 33-8 vote after little debate. 

Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley released the following statement:

"As a young prosecutor, I once thought that decriminalizing the possession of marijuana might undermine the Public Will necessary to combat drug violence and improve public safety. I now think that decriminalizing possession of marijuana is an acknowledgement of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health. Such an acknowledgment in law might even lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens."

But not everyone is onboard with the bill.  WBOC spoke with Rudolph Drummond, the Program Manager, at the Joseph House Workshop.  Drummond works, on a daily basis, with men who are jobless and homeless because of drug and alcohol addictions.

"I believe that openly, more people would be willing to come out and say that they are using and ultimately, yeah, it would be job security for me," said Drummond."

When it comes to the decriminalization of marijuana, Drummond is not in favor of the change.

"Just for the simple fact that the men that I deal with, that I care about very much and work with on a daily basis, I wouldn't want it too blur their vision and have them think that it's acceptable to smoke marijuana," Drummond said.

But Drummond is just one side of the argument.  The decriminalization of pot has its strong supporters including the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland.  The coalition has been working with lawmakers to make decriminalization happen and in a statement, told WBOC, "Legislative leaders and activists are not giving up, and we will continue to work together to put the failed policy of marijuana prohibition behind us."

For or against it, the decriminalization of marijuana in Maryland is very close to becoming a reality.

The possession of 10 grams or less would become a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.
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