Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Maryland House of Delegates Continues Trend of Decriminalization of Marijuana

           On Monday, Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a bill that, if approved by the Senate, would eliminate parole or probation violations for people who “use or possess small amounts of marijuana.”  One year after Maryland’s delegates approved decriminalization of marijuana for possession of 10 grams or less, Maryland’s General Assembly continues the decriminalization trend.

            Proponents of the bill believe that probation and parole rules should “mirror criminal law” and not penalize people for offenses that are no longer criminal.  Furthermore, delegates who voted in favor of the bill argued that this bill would help “keep nonviolent offenders out of the system.”  Many delegates hope to continue passing legislation that eliminates the possibility of parole or probation violations for offenses that have changed from being criminal to civil.  It is counterintuitive to put people in prison for violating parole or probation for a minor drug offense that is no longer criminal.  The language of the bill has since changed from using “drug possession” to “nonjailable civil offenses.”

            Opponents of the bill worry about the link between minor drug possession and the drug culture as a whole, which has a strong connection to violent crime.  Delegates who voted against the bill still believe it is appropriate and necessary to put parole and probation violators back behind bars if found in possession of marijuana.  Some of these delegates also believe that if this bill passes, it will result in more drug dealers on the streets, thereby making communities less safe.

            Pro-drug bills continue to pass in Maryland since marijuana was decriminalized last year.  Last week, a bill passed in Maryland’s House and Senate that decriminalizes possession of marijuana paraphernalia such as bongs and pipes.  Maryland’s House of Delegates also passed a bill to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some non-violent, drug-related offenses.

If you or a family member has been charged with a criminal drug act in Maryland and would like a free legal consultation please contact our office at (301) 854-9000 or visit us on the web at http://www.portnerandshure.com/Criminal-Defense/

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