house of delegates

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Maryland: Governor Vetoes Popular Bill Intended To Fix Marijuana Decrim Law

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Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland calls on state lawmakers to override veto of SB 517, which would remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced late Friday afternoon that he has vetoed a widely supported bill to remove criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia, including potential jail time.

SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates. The measure would also have designated public marijuana consumption a civil offense punishable by a $500 fine.

Maryland adopted a law last year that decriminalized possession of a small amount of marijuana, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia. That leaves the state in the unusual position of having decriminalized marijuana itself, but marijuana paraphernalia is still a crime.

Gov. Hogan’s letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller announcing the veto and explaining his reasoning is available at http://bit.ly/1ellF1e.

Maryland: House Bill Excludes Marijuana As Parole Violation

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Parolees in Maryland who use or possess small amounts of marijuana would no longer be violation of their sentences under a bill narrowly approved by the Maryland House of Delegates last week.

The bill, which squeaked by on a 10-vote margin, comes a year after Maryland voted to decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana. It heads to the Senate for consideration, report Ovetta Wiggins and Jenna Johnson at The Washington Post.

Proponents say it's important for the rules of probation and parole to mirror criminal law, and not to penalize people for offenses that are no longer criminal. Opponents of the bill claimed it would undermine aspects of the criminal justice system intended to keep former inmates on a "positive path," which apparently to these morons means encouraging them to drink rather than the safer alternative of using cannabis.

Possession of small amounts of cannabis isn't a violent offense, said Del. Jay Walker, one of dozens of benighted Democrats who voted against the bill, but drug possession is related to the "drug culture -- the most violent culture we have."

But Del. David Moon (D-Montgomery), who sponsored the legislation, said the bill is "an attempt to keep nonviolent offenders out of the system."

"The spirit is to include all offenses that have been moved from criminal to civil," Moon said.

Maryland: House of Delegates Passes Marijuana Decrim Bill; Headed To Governor's Desk

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Maryland's House of Delegates on Saturday night passed a bill decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill, already approved by the Maryland Senate, is now headed for Governor Martin O'Malley's desk for his signature or veto.

If the Governor signs the bill, HB 1453, getting busted for 10 grams or less of cannabis won't mean going to jail, reports Alex DeMetrick at WJZ. Under current Maryland law, any amount of marijuana is a criminal offense.

"The key is there will be civil penalties instead of criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana," said Del. Kioeffer Mitchell Jr. (D-Baltimore). Possession of 10 grams or less would result in a citation and a possible fine, but no arrest and no criminal record. Seventeen other states have similar laws.

The House voted 78-55 to impose civil fines, rather than criminal penalties, for less than 10 grams of pot, reports Elizabeth LaForgia at Jurist. Those favoring the move pointed to racial disparities, with African Americans much more likely to both be arrested, and to receive a prison sentence for possession.

Maryland: Delegates Try To Revive Marijuana Decrim Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Several rebellious members of the Maryland House of Delegates tried on Friday to revive a bill which would remove criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana, days after the measure got hung up in a committee, according to lawmakers.

Delegates led by members of the Legislative Black Caucus tried to amend the legislation in the full House, an unusual challenge to committee rule in the tightly scripted Legislature, report Fredrick Kunkle and John Wagner at The Washington Post. The move is also a challenge to one of the most powerful men in the House, Judiciary Committee Chairman Del. Joseph F. Vallario Jr (D-Prince George's County).

"There are a number of members in the House who feel very strongly that Maryland should be moving in the direction of decriminalizing marijuana," said Del. Aisha N. Braveboy (D-Prince George's County), chairwoman of the Legislative Black Caucus.

Overcoming a committee chairman's opposition "is very difficult," she said. "But it's not impossible, and it has happened before."

The amendment will likely be introduced during Friday's House session, but debate could be pushed until Saturday, according to several lawmakers.

Last year, the Maryland Senate passed a decriminalization bill, but that one also died in Vallario's committee without a vote. This year was looking like a rerun.

Maryland: House of Delegates Advances Medical Marijuana Bill

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By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

Last year, the Maryland Legislature passed a completely useless medical marijuana law which limited distribution to a small number of approved academic medical centers. None of those centers, surprise surprise, were willing to participate, so patients were still left without any safe access. Now, legislators are looking to fix the law to help patients actually obtain cannabis. On Saturday, the House gave preliminary approval to a bill that would increase safe access to medical marijuana.

The House of Delegates on Monday plans to vote on a bill by Del. Dan K. Morhaim (D-Baltimore County) which would loosen its current law and replace the non-functional system created last year with one that works, reports Michael Dresser at The Baltimore Sun.

"The important thing to recognize is that there are thousands of Marylanders who could be helped in the short and long term," said Morhaim. "We're missing a tremendous economic opportunity to exploit this plant and use it in an intelligent, properly scientific, research way."

Lawmakers heard extensive testimony this year about the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to patients with epilepsy, the side effects of chemotherapy, auto-immune disorders and other medical conditions. The bill would allow physicians to authorize patients to use medical marijuana outside the medical center setting.

Maryland: Senate Overwhelmingly Passes Medical Marijuana Bill

(Illustration: Splice Today)By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill to eventually allow seriously ill patients safe access to medical marijuana. The bill, HB 1101, would allow academic medical research centers to apply for licenses to distribute medicinal cannabis to qualified patients.

The Senate on Monday voted 42-4 to approve the bill, which has already been passed by the Maryland House of Delegates, sending the legislation to the desk of Governor Martin O'Malley, reports The Associated Press.

Unlike 18 other states that have adopted medical marijuana laws that allow patients to obtain medicinal cannabis by growing it themselves or by purchasing it from state-licensed businesses, Maryland's law requires that patients obtain their medicine only from a limited number of research hospitals approved to conduct medical marijuana research.

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Bill Receives Final Approval from House of Delegates

Maryland: Medical Marijuana Bill Receives Final Approval from House of DelegatesBroadly supported proposal would allow academic medical research centers to provide medical marijuana to patients with serious illnesses

By Steve Elliott
Hemp News

A bill that could allow Maryland citizens with serious illnesses to obtain medical marijuana legally via state-regulated programs took an important step toward becoming law today when the Maryland House of Delegates voted 108-28 to send it to the Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

“People who use medical marijuana to treat illnesses like cancer and multiple sclerosis shouldn’t have to resort to the illicit market to obtain doctor-recommended medicine,” said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “States around the nation are successfully implementing programs that provide patients with safe, legal, and reliable access to medical marijuana.”

HB 1101, introduced by Del. Dan Morhaim (D-Baltimore), an emergency room physician, would create a commission through which academic medical research centers could apply to operate medical marijuana programs. The programs would provide patients with marijuana grown by the federal government or state-licensed growers regulated by the commission.

Maryland: Bill Would End Jail Time, Reduce Fine For Small Amounts of Marijuana

Maryland: Bill Would End Jail Time, Reduce Fine For Small Amounts of MarijuanaBy Steve Elliott
Hemp News

The Maryland Senate on Monday is scheduled to vote on a bill that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana, ending jail time and reducing the fine to a maximum of $100.

The bill, which is expected to pass, will then face review by the House of Delegates, report Kate Havard and Paul Schwartzman of The Washington Post. Under the Senate proposal, people caught with up to 10 grams of cannabis -- just more than a third of an ounce -- would no longer face any jail time.

Under current Maryland law, the punishment is up to 90 days behind bars, with a fine of up to $500.

"We don't want to wrap people up in the criminal jail system for this," said Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County).

Maryland, a Democratic stronghold, has already legalized same-sex marriage and abolished the death penalty. But it has lagged behind states like California, Washington and Colorado on the cannabis issue.

Senate Majority Leader E.J. Pipkin (R-Cecil) said he expected the decrim bill to pass in the Senate with bipartisan support, though he said he would vote no on it.

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