Maryland plans 50 percent alcohol tax hike

April 10, 2011 at 11:14 AM

ANNAPOLIS, Md., April 10 (UPI) -- Maryland is close to raising alcohol taxes by half and decriminalizing marijuana for medical reasons.

The House of Delegates Saturday granted preliminary approval to hiking the sales tax on beer, wine and spirits from 6 percent to 9 percent, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The move is expected to raise $85 million per year, which would be directed to school construction and aid and services for the disabled in Baltimore City and Prince George's County for the first year.

Some Republicans objected that urban and suburban counties would get the benefits while rural retailers would suffer when customers drive to neighboring states.

Senate President Thomas Miller said his chamber probably would go along with the bill.

The House also gave final approval Saturday to a study of medical marijuana.

People arrested for possession of 1 ounce or less could claim medical necessity by presenting a doctor's note, medical documentation or a doctor's testimony.

The Senate already has passed a similar measure.

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