Maryland has finally taken two big steps for marijuana reform today. Among the many bills signed by Governor Martin O’Malley on Monday was SB 364, which decriminalized up to 10 grams of marijuana, and HB 881, which should allow the state to create a functioning medical marijuana system.
Under the new marijuana decriminalization law possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana by adults will be a civil instead of a criminal offense. The punishment will be only a $100 fine for a first offense and a $250 fine for a second offense. Three or more offenses will also require appearance in court and drug education. The law goes into effect October 1st of this year.
While Maryland technically adopted a medical marijuana law last year the restrictions made it medical marijuana in name only. It required the program be run through academic medical centers but none of the centers in the state were willing to take part, so the law was unlikely to ever benefit any patients.
This problem has now been fixed with HB 881 being signed into law. The new law instead relies on licensed medical marijuana treatment centers that will get marijuana from specially licensed growers. Thanks to the changes implemented Maryland should be able to develop a system that actually gets medical marijuanas to patients.
This makes Maryland the 21st state with a functional medical marijuana law, and the 10th state where it was approved through the state legislature.
Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy
Photo by Chuck Coker, used under Creative Commons license