The proposal, introduced by Senator Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), removes criminal penalties for the possession of cannabis paraphernalia, such as pipes, bongs and grinders. Governor Hogan vetoed this common sense measure in May, after it was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates.
The approval of this new law comes after the state’s adoption of a 2014 policy that removes criminal penalties for the possession of small amounts of cannabis, while leaving in place penalties for cannabis paraphernalia.
“An overwhelming majority of Maryland voters do not want citizens to be subjected to jail time and a lifelong criminal record simply for using marijuana”, the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland said in a press release following the legislature’s vote. “The continued criminalization of paraphernalia in practice meant that people with small amounts of cannabis were still being arrested throughout the state, sometimes for nothing but the plastic bag containing the cannabis. This unfortunate shortcoming will now be fixed, thanks to the courage and support of our lawmakers.”
A new poll released today shows that the majority of Maryland voters support broader cannabis policy reform. A statewide survey of registered voters conducted by Gonzales Research and Marketing Strategies found 53% to be in favor of legalizing cannabis, with just 43% were opposed.