Legalize Marijuana Bill Faces Uphill Battle In Md.

BERLIN — A bill introduced in the General Assembly this week would add Maryland to the growing list of states legalizing marijuana, but the measure will not likely see the light of day.

Four Baltimore City delegates this week introduced House Bill 1453, which, if approved, would legalize marijuana in Maryland under certain specific conditions. The legislation would remove criminal penalties for private possession and home-growing of limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older and direct the state comptroller to license marijuana retail stores, wholesale facilities and testing facilities.

The bill includes a significant excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales, the proceeds of which would offset the cost of implementing the act and also fund treatment programs to prevent alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse. The legislation would also direct the Department of Agriculture to regulate the cultivation and distribution of marijuana, but would allow individual jurisdictions to regulate businesses that offer pot for sale. Under the proposed bill, it would still be against the law to smoke week in public, and to drive under the influence of marijuana.

While Maryland has been flirting with medical marijuana legislation, House Bill 1453 is the first outright attempt at legalizing the narcotic. Last year, Washington and Colorado passed legislation making marijuana legal for adults over 21 and establishing regulations for businesses to cultivate and sell weed to adults.

Similar legislation has already been introduced this year in Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, with Pennsylvania, Nevada and Vermont expected to follow suit. While Maryland joins the list with the legislation introduced this week, local lawmakers in Annapolis don’t see the bill gaining much support this year.

“That’s not going to get any traction,” said Delegate Mike McDermott (R-38). “That bill will almost certainly die in committee this year.”

Because the bill has not yet been cross-filed, Senator Jim Mathias (D-38) said this week he has not been presented with the legislation and has not formed an opinion on it one way or the other. Mathias said he supports medical marijuana, but is not sure about embracing complete legalization.

“I’ve supported the medical marijuana efforts because I believe there is a valid need under certain conditions,” he said. “I haven’t had the opportunity to read over and form any opinion on the legalization bill because it’s only been filed in the House.”

McDermott, a career law enforcement officer, said there could be steps taken to loosen the laws on marijuana short of legalizing it.

“Right now in Maryland, simple possession results in a citation,” he said. “Over the next couple of years, it could be made a fineable offense as an alternative to complete legalization.”

While some states have already legalized pot and it appears more will soon follow, McDermott said the issue is complicated because the drug is still illegal under federal laws.

“If we relax the laws, it’s going to be a government operation,” he said. “The state government would be in the business of manufacturing drugs. It’s still illegal federally, so I don’t know how to get around that.”

Meanwhile, marijuana advocacy groups praised Delegate Curt Anderson and his co-sponsors’ legislation and called for Maryland to ease the prohibition on pot.

“Most Americans now recognize that marijuana prohibition has been just as spectacular a failure as alcohol prohibition,” said Deputy Director of Government Relations for the Marijuana Policy Project Dan Riffle. “It is time for a new, more sensible approach to marijuana in Maryland and that is what this bill proposes.”

Riffle asserted the problems caused by alcohol abuse in Maryland and across the country far outweigh similar problems caused by marijuana use.

“Our public policies should be based on the facts, and it is a fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol,” he said. “Adults should not be made criminals simply for choosing to use the less harmful product. Our law enforcement efforts should be focused on preventing and investigating serious crimes and not on arresting and prosecuting responsible adult marijuana users.”

The Marijuana Policy Project also pointed out to the potential economic gains in terms of tax revenue and jobs creation by the bid to legalize pot in Maryland. Riffle said the enormous amount of money derived from marijuana sales currently goes to criminal elements and legalizing weed could shift the revenue to state coffers.

“Marijuana sales are currently taking place in an underground market where they benefit criminals and drug cartels,” he said. “Under the law proposed by Delegate Anderson, marijuana sales would take place in tightly regulated businesses that are creating jobs and paying taxes that will benefit Maryland citizens. We hope legislators will agree that it is time to once again make prohibition a thing of the past.”

23 comments on “Legalize Marijuana Bill Faces Uphill Battle In Md.

  1. I support Maryland legalizing marijuana. If tobacco and alcohol can kill thousands, maybe even millions a year, why can’t marijuana that kills 0 be legal? #MDforMJ

  2. When is small govt going to show Big Govt a way to make a our fiscal woes ease in pain a fruition> Of course TAX it by the ounce but get off your butts and show some real grit the taxpayers pay you for to make medical use a priority for those moderate to crtically ill Taxpayers. Im a terminally ill cancer patient and need help and cannabis can do that if leaglized!

  3. “Right now in Maryland, simple possession results in a citation”
    FALSE!
    Personal Use 10 g or less is a misdemeanor CRIME 90 days PRISON TIME $500 Fine. Look it up!

    House Bill 1453 needs to be taken seriously. It’s insane to continue marijuana prohibition just as it would be insane to go back to alcohol prohibition.

    What we have right now is a black market free for all where all the profits are supporting gangs in an unregulated market. When is the last time you heard of a drug dealer checking an ID to make sure their customer was 21? House Bill 1453 will make that happen.

    Even if you could care less about MJ you could benefit from getting this passed. We’re putting people in PRISON over this. PRISON!! Can you imagine going to jail over a beer during alcohol prohibition? It costs between $40,000-$50,000 to jail someone in MD for just 1 year.

    Voters in Colorado and Washington had enough wasting billions trying to enforce MJ prohibition laws and decided to TAX, REGULATE, and CONTROL MJ last election. They decided to take a smart approach and handle it they way we handle alcohol.

    TAX, REGULATE, AND CONTROL IT! It’s the smart approach. What we have no is a black market free for all where it’s currently EASIER for kids to get it than alcohol. Why? Drug dealers on street corners dont ask for ID!

    This bill is common sense, it wil SAVE MONEY, GENERATE REVENUE, and allow responsible ADULTS to buy MJ the same way they would buy beer, vodka, wine, or tobacco.

  4. Here is an enlightening thought experiment: Think about what you would do if you could go back to the time of segregation, or when no woman had the right to vote.
    What would you tell others about what is plainly obvious to everyone today? Are you someone who would jump at the opportunity right these wrongs a little sooner? I would think that every politician, deep down, came into office with the spirit of doing good and advancing society. Perhaps people lose perspective, or maybe it is just too difficult to be suspicious of the present condition.

    Here is a tip for identifying injustices: talk to the people who suffer, and listen to science.
    There is no other way to know–what we know–than science. What studies say, and what a history of thousands of years of consumption tell us, is that getting intoxicated is an innatate human behavior and that is not necessarily destructive. Marijuana is one of the most benign, uplifting, and natural ways to get high in existence. So while you enjoy sipping on a cold Budweiser with friends and family during this Super-Bowl, think about the irony that your tax dollars are supporting America’s practice of mass incarceration, and the stripping of people’s rights for a substance orders of magnitude less dangerous, all while having no impact on the growing violent underground economies. Some day we will look back at this prohibition era and think about how careless we were.

    And here is some food for thought:
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3e/Drug_danger_and_dependence.png

  5. Its time to end Marijuana prohibition. We definately need to vote out any politicians that support prohibition. They are holding us back.

  6. Cannabis is not a narcotic. It has the same classification as aspirin. It is an analgesic. also cannabis oil cures cancer, restores appetite and deep sleep and has an outstanding safe drug profile compared to dangerous pharmaceuticals. THC(marinol) is schedule III not schedule I. THC is the only intoxicating cannabinoid in marijuana. therefore marijuana should be at least schedule III or not scheduled at all. Narcotics are opioids. Opioids kill people and enslave people to do anything, including theft, murder, and prostitution. Marijuana does not do this in any shape or form. Telling children and adults marijuana is the same as heroin is a dangerous and misleading. The government is pro opium just like the politicians who get re-elected to office by money from Big Pharma. The government is OK with our children being opioid addicts but are not OK with hemp being grown for industrial purpose. All industrialized nations grow hemp except for the U.S. Hemp has CBD. CBD is a miracle drug that cures cancer and stop Alzheimer’s.

  7. Remember this when time to vote omalley out Curt Anderson in as gov.mr. Omalley is for his own benefits not marylanders.Sick people need him and thjs is what they get not good at all.

  8. The only way we’re going to convince our officials is by saying something. If gay marriage can pass in the house and senate, Cannabis legalization certainly can. I have seen too many victims and racial barriers set up because of our nations drug laws. Could Cannabis legalization also be a key to ending racial poverty? So many key aspects that this powerful God-given plant has and in this day and age of science its about time we straighten out the facts. Cannabis is medicine! Peace be with you all and God bless Maryland, the U.S.A. and the whole world. Thanks!

  9. Mr. Common Sense Guy: All Mr. McDermott was referencing in the article is that possession under 10 grams now results in a citation and the person isnt taken to jail, but has to appear in Court to face the charges of it; which are 90 days, probation, fine, etc as you mentioned. He is not saying that possesion now results in just a PAYABLE citation fine now .Come on. He is not dumb. No need to proclaim FALSE in your response.

  10. 1. I support the legalization of marijuana
    2. Yes, it’s still illegal federally. You said you don’t know how to get around that? Just do what other states did, duh. You’re acting like the federal government will arrest literally everybody in the entire state or something.
    3. The reason why marijuana became illegal in the first place was because of racism. It’s still illegal today because of money, and the negative hype that was put on it
    4. I suffer from TMJ (jaw/joint disorder) google it. When I’m high, I feel know more pain. Same goes with my depression. When I’m high, I am no longer depressed. I’m depressed like crazy right now, but I’m scared to smoke because it is still illegal.
    5. I got hit by a car. The doctor tried to give me a well known pain reliever, but I forgot the name of it. I asked about the side-effects and how it would make me feel, because I’m mostly natural when it comes to feeling better. He said it would give me a “high” feeling. If I want to get high, I’ll just smoke weed.
    5. Marijuana is far better than man-made drugs. Ever noticed how most man-made drugs have many side-effects? Anti-depressent have many, possible many side effects, including suicide. I guess you won’t be depressed anymore if you kill yourself huh?

    Smh, stop the nonsense and LEGALIZE MARIJUANA!!!!

  11. I believe HB.1453 is going to make it through the committee contrary to McDermott’s beliefs, seeing as how I am 1 of the many citizen of MD of whom “Support” this effort i wouldn’t mind not getting in trouble, plus i wanns get a job as a tester lol

  12. Mr. B,

    That’s just it. It’s NOT just a PAYABLE FINE. Look it up please. Currently under MD law 10 g or less is a misdemeanor CRIME 90 days PRISON TIME $500 Fine if your punished to the maximum extent of the law.

    If what you were saying is true why would MD senator Bobby Zirkin introduce SB 297 to decrim MJ and make it a civil fine. Look here, it just had a hearing the other day. Several people went down to to testify explaining they faced JAIL TIME.

    http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=SB297&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2013rs

  13. Wow – look at the turnout for this story.

    I thought the story about the OC budget being in the RED would garner a similar amount of comments. Then again I’ve read that story 15 times and still can’t get my thoughts straight.

    OCers…MDers.. need a revenue stream?? Seems those much younger than me might have a “happy” way to generate revenue!

    Simply WOW! ~BUSHMAN!~

  14. If you are interested in supporting the cause of legalizing the responsible adult use of marijuana, please join us at http://www.ncmdnorml.org, on Facebook at https://www.fb.com/ncmdnorml, and on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/ncmdnorml. Together we can end the costly fining and incarceration of fellow countryman whose crimes have no victim.

  15. I too support the legalization of marijuana. How many people on the streets of Ocean City have been killed or injured by people walking out of an establishment after heavily imbibing on a legal substance know as alcohol. The argument that it will cause more deaths and lead to more aggressive drug use is dead in the water. Mr. Candy’s comment is spot on.

  16. I agree with most comments on this view when in favor of legalizing it. I have lupus and have had it for well over 10yrs now and i wont begin to sound like im on my death bed, but pain and no sleep play a big part in who i have become because of this. And to know that right around the corner in district of columbia a treatment is offered to others similar to me but i am not offered the same because im a few miles out of the area just makes me clueless to where we are headed. And that if i was stupid enough to go get it on the street i would be putting myself in harms way and risking my freedom for something that a couple miles away with a card your ok to have.

  17. I too support the legalizing of marijuana for the reason of my own…I witness lots of people hurt,killed do to drink driving or like my aunt die do to lung cancer from tobacco….Lot of people i know do marijuana and they fine..I myself use to do it untill i was put on probation for using it…all im say its not harming no one its not like its coke and thing like that….just my thougts

  18. its dumb not to make this legal, its a plant. I have ADHD and Dyslexia, and the doc gives me addrall* for it. I bet you didn’t know addrall has coke in it thats why athletes cant use it. I never knew it was in it until i took a drug test and found out but other drugs doctors give you have the same thing. This drug also makes me loose weight and not want to eat. I would rather smoke this and be able to focus than take that pill. And what about the people who dont eat factory made foods or man made products? but they need something for the pain.

  19. Adderall does NOT contain cocaine in it. Go back to your high school chemistry class and learn something. You give people who are pro marijuana a bad name/rep by sounding like a stupid stoner. No wonder these laws never pass. Educate yourself, so you can do some good.

  20. Adderall does not contain any amount of coke. It might exhibit similar qualities of coke, that is because it is derived from four amphetamine salts.

  21. I support legalizing marijuana and agree with all the points stressed in this post. Maryland needs to be more logical about this fiscal cliff. I believe this is one of the best ideas to generate NEW revenue and jobs for Maryland. All the ideas they come up with is Tax here, Cut there, Tax here, Cut there, Instead of creating New ways to build a revenue stream.
    Two powerful quotes that we should stand by for HB 1453:
    “In God We Trust”
    AND
    “It’s Time for a Change”
    Oh Along with This Bill 420(April,20) should be a national holiday.

  22. I think that marijuana should be legal because if alcohol is legal and cigarettes are legal then why not marijuana

  23. come on Maryland, it is simply ridiculous that cannabis was made illegal in the first place.

    really don’t get why people are so afraid of this plant.

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