By Steve Elliott
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.