The politics of Maryland lawmakers are increasingly reflecting the shift in public opinion on marijuana use, as today the Maryland Senate passed a bill, 36 to 8, that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of the drug.
If the bill passes the House, it means those found with less than 10 grams of on their person would not be charged with a crime, and would only be subject to a civil fine of $100.
Currently, minor possession of marijuana can land a person in jail for up to 90 days -- on top of a possible $5,000 fine.
“If it passes the House this year, it will be a big step forward,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr., D-Calvert, told The Washington Post.
Protesters rallied at the State House in Annapolis today to show their support of laxer marijuana statutes, although most were there in support of another bill that would legalize marijuana entirely.
Even though House delegate Heather R. Mizeur, D-Montgomery, supports legalization and taxation -- making it a top issue in her race for the Democratic nomination for governor -- she's not sure Maryland politics is quite ready to embrace the demands of the protesters.
"It's likely to take an election and a mandate from voters to change old ways of thinking in Annapolis," she told The Baltimore Sun. "This year medical marijuana seems like the easy thing to do. Decriminalization seems like the middle path."
[The Washington Post] [The Baltimore Sun]