In the state of Maryland, there is growing support for legalizing marijuana. Thus far, however, the General Assembly has approved and signed into law only medical marijuana.
Fans of recreational cannabis may find encouragement in the state's recent progress toward legalization. But at this time, the law still classifies many cases of possession as misdemeanors or felonies with far-reaching effects.
Decriminalizing marijuana possession
In 2014, the passage of Senate Bill 364 provided some breathing room for people possessing small amounts of marijuana. Having less than 10 grams for personal use is now a civil offense with a fine of no more than $100 and no jail time involved. However, it is a misdemeanor to carry up to 50 pounds of marijuana. Penalties include possible jail time of one year and a fine of $1,000. Possession of more than 50 pounds constitutes a felony in the state of Maryland.
Risking future goals
A high school junior who gets good grades is probably ready to check out potential colleges. Kids have access to marijuana, though. In addition to the serious legal consequences, if teens should be charged with a misdemeanor for possession of weed, they could lose any hopes of financial aid. Similar convictions could prevent older job seekers from being eligible for many good positions, such as government jobs.
Making possession offenses less severe
Times are changing. A September 2016 poll conducted jointly by the Washington Post and the University of Maryland revealed that 64 percent of Maryland voters support putting an end to the prohibition of marijuana.
During its 2017 session, Maryland's General Assembly passed a bill that reduces the waiting period for expunging a marijuana possession offense from 10 years down to four, yet another ray of hope for recreational marijuana supporters. The new law helps clear the record for people with prior convictions for possession. As a result, they will find it easier to get a college education or a good job, or even buy a house. The future for many is looking brighter.