Hashing Out Details of New Marijuana Law in Md. - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Hashing Out Details of New Marijuana Law in Md.

Posted:
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A new law that will decriminalize marijuana in October involves some ambiguities that police and prosecutors are just beginning to confront.

Under the law, possession of rolling papers, pipes and other marijuana accessories will remain a criminal offense. This means a person caught smoking a joint technically could be arrested for the rolling paper but not the marijuana inside.

Also, fines are supposed to go up for anyone caught with the drug more than once, but Scott Shellenberger, the state's attorney of Baltimore County, says it will be hard for police to establish whether a person has been charged before. Since marijuana possession will no longer be a crime, it will not show up in the criminal database.

Gov. Martin O'Malley signed the decriminalization bill into law on Monday morning. It will eliminate criminal charges for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana and reduce the offense to the level of a traffic violation.

Sixteen other states have taken similar measures since the 19701970's is distinct from the full-on marijuana legalization bills passed in Colorado and Washington.

Sen. Bobby Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, the bill's chief sponsor, said he intentionally left intact the criminal penalties for having marijuana accessories. He said it could help ensure that if police see marijuana accessories in someone's car, they still have legal grounds to search the car for items like guns and heroin.

But it also creates a strange inconsistency. Republicans have suggested even a bag used to carry marijuana could still be cause for a criminal charge.

Zirkin said the legislature will consider eliminating those penalties next year.

Until 2012, Ohio's law had the same discrepancy. Dan Riffle, a former Ohio prosecutor who now works for the Marijuana Policy Project, said each jurisdiction decided its own procedures. Stubborn police departments still arrested people for carrying marijuana pipes and papers. However, this happened less and less as the public became more supportive of decriminalization, Riffle said.

Shellenberger said Maryland's prosecutors will send out guidelines for enforcing the new law. Every county could agree not to arrest people for carrying pot accessories. But the prosecutors' association can't force anyone's hand, he said.

Shellenberger raised other ambiguities as well. Will marijuana cases go on courts' traffic dockets or criminal dockets? What will be the standard of proof to make a marijuana charge stick? If police find several baggies of marijuana in a car, totaling more than 10 grams' worth, can they aggregate them and issue a criminal charge?

The prosecutors sent O'Malley a letter last week, urging him not to sign the bill. They agree it was passed too hastily.

"Clearly we could've gotten a better bill than this," Shellenberger said.

It's hard to nail down how many people are arrested for marijuana possession each year. The American Civil Liberties Union found that in 2010, Maryland had the country's fourth highest arrest rate for marijuana possession. Legal analysts have said the state had more than 19,000 marijuana cases last year. But in at least a small number of cases, the defendants were likely just given citations and never arrested.

Shellenberger said that most often, marijuana defendants are arrested but released immediately, without requiring a bail hearing.

Last year only 252 people were kept in jail for marijuana possession alone, according to data the Associated Press obtained from Maryland's Administrative Office of the Courts.

  • Delmarvawide NewsDelmarvawide NewsMore>>

  • Delaware State Fair Showcases Young Farmers

    Delaware State Fair Showcases Young Farmers

    Tuesday, July 25 2017 8:50 PM EDT2017-07-26 00:50:52 GMT
    Tuesday, July 25 2017 8:50 PM EDT2017-07-26 00:50:52 GMT
    HARRINGTON, Del. -- The Delaware State Fair features a number of exhibits on agriculture and livestock shows, many of which have deep involvement from children and teenagers.Taylor Brittingham of Smyrna has been showing farm animals in competition sinceMore
    HARRINGTON, Del. -- The Delaware State Fair features a number of exhibits on agriculture and livestock shows, many of which have deep involvement from children and teenagers.Taylor Brittingham of Smyrna has been showing farm animals in competition sinceMore
  • New Details Surface On Assateague Pony Death

    New Details Surface On Assateague Pony Death

    Tuesday, July 25 2017 7:39 PM EDT2017-07-25 23:39:22 GMT
    Tuesday, July 25 2017 7:39 PM EDT2017-07-25 23:39:22 GMT
    Assateague PoniesAssateague Ponies
    New details surfaced on last weeks Assateague Pony death. According to Park officials, the 7-year-old pony was found by campers. Due to the uncertainty of when the pony ate the dog food, the investigation has concluded and no one is being charged.More
    New details surfaced on last weeks Assateague Pony death. According to Park officials, the 7-year-old pony was found by campers. Due to the uncertainty of when the pony ate the dog food, the investigation has concluded and no one is being charged.More
  • Six Arrested After Ocean City Strong Arm Robbery

    Six Arrested After Ocean City Robbery

    07/25/2017 18:05:00 -04:002017-07-25 22:05:00 GMT
    Tuesday, July 25 2017 6:05 PM EDT2017-07-25 22:05:05 GMT
    MGN OnlineMGN Online
    A verbal altercation between two groups led to a strong arm robbery and six people being arrested on Monday, according to the town of Ocean City.More
    A verbal altercation between two groups led to a strong arm robbery and six people being arrested on Monday, according to the town of Ocean City.More
  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Dead Shark Washes up on OC Beach

    Dead Shark Washes up on OC Beach

    07/25/2017 07:38:00 -04:002017-07-25 11:38:00 GMT
    Tuesday, July 25 2017 7:39 AM EDT2017-07-25 11:39:19 GMT
    This shark washed ashore in Ocean City on Monday. (Photo credit: Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)This shark washed ashore in Ocean City on Monday. (Photo credit: Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun)
    Some beach goers in Ocean City got quite a surprise Monday when a large shark washed ashore.More
    Some beach goers in Ocean City, Maryland got quite a surprise Monday when a large shark washed ashore.More
  • Salisbury Man Sentenced to 25 Years After Third Felony Drug Conviction

    Salisbury Man Sentenced to 25 Years After Third Felony Drug Conviction

    Thursday, July 23 2015 12:15 PM EDT2015-07-23 16:15:04 GMT
    Thursday, July 23 2015 12:48 PM EDT2015-07-23 16:48:44 GMT
    A Salisbury man convicted last month of cocaine possession and “maintaining a common nuisance” has been sentenced to 25 years without parole, the Wicomico County State's Attorney's Office announced Thursday.More
    A Salisbury man convicted last month of cocaine possession and “maintaining a common nuisance” has been sentenced to 25 years without parole, the Wicomico County State's Attorney's Office announced Thursday.More
  • Six Arrested After Ocean City Strong Arm Robbery

    Six Arrested After Ocean City Robbery

    07/25/2017 18:05:00 -04:002017-07-25 22:05:00 GMT
    Tuesday, July 25 2017 6:05 PM EDT2017-07-25 22:05:05 GMT
    MGN OnlineMGN Online
    A verbal altercation between two groups led to a strong arm robbery and six people being arrested on Monday, according to the town of Ocean City.More
    A verbal altercation between two groups led to a strong arm robbery and six people being arrested on Monday, according to the town of Ocean City.More
  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Tornado Destroys Homes in Stevensville

    Tornado Destroys Homes in Stevensville

    Several homes in the Bay City area of Stevensville were left extremely damaged after a tornado.

    More

    Several homes in the Bay City area of Stevensville were left extremely damaged after a tornado.

    More
  • Damage, Power Outages Reported in Queen Anne's Co. After Severe Weather

    Damage, Power Outages Reported in Queen Anne's Co. After Severe Weather

    A National Weather Service team is headed to Maryland's Eastern Shore to determine whether a tornado touched down there.

    The weather service says the team is headed to Queen Anne's County on Monday to assess damage from the early morning storm that downed trees, collapsed buildings and knocked out power to thousands overnight in the Stevensville area of Kent Island. County officials say one person was injured but those injuries were not life-threatening.

    More

    A National Weather Service team is headed to Maryland's Eastern Shore to determine whether a tornado touched down there.

    The weather service says the team is headed to Queen Anne's County on Monday to assess damage from the early morning storm that downed trees, collapsed buildings and knocked out power to thousands overnight in the Stevensville area of Kent Island. County officials say one person was injured but those injuries were not life-threatening.

    More
  • People of Cambridge Move on From Segregated Past

    People of Cambridge Move on From Segregated Past

    Fifty years ago, civil unrest in Cambridge reached a boiling point. Now fifty years later, people say they are ready to reflect on those times and to move forward.

    More

    Fifty years ago, civil unrest in Cambridge reached a boiling point. Now fifty years later, people say they are ready to reflect on those times and to move forward.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices