In what some people will consider a victory for those who use marijuana, Governor Martin O’Malley said that he will sign a bill that decriminalizes the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana. Maryland will join at least 24 other states who have legalized marijuana, approved it for medicinal purposes or decriminalized it.
The Maryland Senate recently approved the bill that will impose civil fines instead of criminal penalties on people who are found to be in possession of small amounts of the drug. Supporters of the bill say that it is time to end the war on marijuana. Growing public support for the decriminalization was also noted by some lawmakers.
Initially, the bill would have imposed a $100 fine on defendants, no matter how many times the person was convicted. A court would have been able to order drug treatment programs for third-time offenders. The final bill that came from the House and Senate changes the penalties some. Instead of a flat fine, escalating fines would be imposed with a third offense netting a $500 fine. Violators under 21-years old will have to appear in court, but others could simply pay the fine like they would a traffic ticket.
This law hasn’t yet gone into effect, so people who are facing drug charges for marijuana should become familiar with the sentencing requirements that are still in place now. Seeking the assistance of someone who is familiar with drug charges and drug defenses might help you to get answers to your questions regarding your charges or the potential penalties of a conviction.
Source: The Washington Post, “Maryland Gov. O’Malley will sign marijuana decriminalization bill, he says” Fredrick Kunkle and John Wagner, Apr. 07, 2014