Maryland voters approved same-sex marriage and the DREAM Act, but don’t hold your breath on the legalization of marijuana. Even though Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana through popular vote this year, it is not expected to show up on the Maryland ballot anytime soon.
The Senator who was unsuccessful in getting medical marijuana approved does not believe the next session will bring marijuana reform in Maryland. Governor Martin O’Malley threatened to veto allowing the sale of medical marijuana at state-regulated pharmacies last year. We cannot expect recreational marijuana to be legalized before the pharmacy sale of medical marijuana.
Part of the concern lies with the federal government. Under federal law, marijuana is an illegal substance. Thus, in states such as Colorado, federal officials can still charge someone with marijuana possession under federal laws even though possession is legal under state laws.
Until it is clear how the federal government will respond to state laws legalizing marijuana (so far they have said they will continue business as usual), reform in Maryland is likely a null point.
That isn’t to say that reform will not happen — in bits and pieces. In 2012, Maryland passed a law that reduced the consequences of possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana. Previously, defendants could face one year in jail; now, they face a maximum of 90 days. Furthermore, police are now required to issue citations for marijuana possession rather than arresting a defendant before the bail hearing. Finally, in 2011, the legislature passed a law allowing patients who use marijuana for medical reasons to use those medical reasons as an affirmative defense in their marijuana possession cases.
Source: Gazette.net, “Marijuana reform not on Maryland’s legislative agenda,” C. Benjamin Ford, Nov. 16, 2012
Charged with marijuana possession? Learn more by visiting our pages on Maryland drug charges.