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Legalizing Weed: 4 Quotes From Lawmakers After Pot Became Decriminalized in Maryland

By    |   Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:28 AM

The state of Maryland decriminalized weed when the public expressed concerns that criminal convictions related to marijuana possession were harming the employment and educational prospects of many residents.

Additionally, legislators were alarmed at the racial disparities in marijuana possession arrests between blacks and whites despite equivalent rates of marijuana use being reported.

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In 2014, the Legislature took action, making it a civil infraction for being caught with weed, punishable by fine, The Washington Post reported. The law took effect Oct. 1.

Lawmakers have made their stances well known on decriminalizing pot. Here’s what a few had to say.

1. “We’ve made this determination that we’ll treat this substance as a health issue so it make sense that we lessen the penalties on the hardware,” said Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, who sponsored the decriminalization bill, speaking about making paraphernalia legal as well, according to his website.

2. Maryland’s Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley made the following statement regarding the law, according to The Huffington Post, "I'm not much in favor of it. We've seen what drug addiction has done to the people of our state, to the people of our city." He noted the reasoning behind his support and signing the bill was because law enforcement officials already consider marijuana arrests a low priority offense.

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3. Sen. Christopher Shank, R-Washington, noted that despite its passage, the law has some issues. "It’s not going to be like flipping a switch. Are there going to be bumps on the road? Absolutely.” Shank said law enforcement, including judges, police and prosecutors all need to be on the same page about the new law, reports Herald-Mail Media.

4. The decriminalization debate has continued on as lawmakers attempt to reach agreement about what fines are reasonable for what infractions. Despite a law allowing smoking medical marijuana in public, there is still a fine attached to doing so.

Some legislators wanted the fine to be $500 so it had weight to it, including Sen. James Brochin, D-Baltimore County, WAMU reported.

"If you keep lowering it, you go to $250, you're legitimizing it. You're making it seem like it's OK. And it's not okay," Brochin said. "It's not OK to smoke pot everyday. It's not OK to smoke pot occasionally, especially if you're under 21. Especially with these kids' brains that are developing. And it's not OK to be on the street and say, 'Oh there's somebody with a joint' and they're sitting there smoking point and are stoned out of their head."

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The state of Maryland decriminalized weed when the public expressed concerns that criminal convictions related to marijuana possession were harming the employment and educational prospects of many residents.
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2015-28-19
Tuesday, 19 May 2015 10:28 AM
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