A bill filed by Baltimore City Delegate Curt Anderson (above photo) would decriminalize marijuana, making it legal for adults over 21 and establishing a system that would regulate the sale, tax and use of the drug.
The bill proposes a system of regulation much like the one the state uses to control the wholesale and retail distribution of alcohol while eliminating criminal penalties for private possession and small home-grown amounts of marijuana.
Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana in November ballot referendums. Several other states are currently also considering the legalization recreational marijuana, although the drug is still illegal, in terms of federal law.
House Bill 1453, co-sponsored by Baltimore City Delegates Jill P. Carter, Cheryl D. Glenn and Nathaniel T. Oaks, is scheduled for a House Judiciary Committee reading March 19.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the proposed legislation is the first of its kind ever introduced in Maryland.
"Every objective study on marijuana has concluded that it is far less harmful than alcohol for the consumer and the surrounding community," said Dan Riffle, a former Ohio prosecutor now serving as deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project said in a statement. "It is less toxic, less addictive, and, unlike alcohol, does not contribute to violent crimes and reckless behavior."
A bill introduced by Baltimore County state Sen. Bobby Zirkin this year would change the penalty for the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, making the violation a civil offense punishable by a fine not exceeding $100, according to a synopsis of the bill on the General Assembly’s website.