In 2014, Maryland lawmakers approved a proposal – which took effect in September – that decriminalized the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis, making it no longer a criminal offense, rather than an arrestable misdemeanor as it was before. However, a loophole in the law kept cannabis paraphernalia illegal, with those caught in possession charged with a misdemeanor.
“We made the possession of marijuana a civil offense, but the hardware used with it is still criminal, so you had this disjointed law that didn’t make any sense,” says Senator Bobby Zirkin, the bill’s primary sponsor.
The bill also sets a maximum penalty of a $500 civil fine for those caught smoking cannabis in public; currently there is no penalty.
The measure has already passed the state’s Senate, and now heads to Governor Larry Hogan for consideration.