TESTIMONY TO THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
SB 364 Criminal Law - Possession of Marijuana - Civil Offense
BY: Susan Cochran, President
DATE: April 1, 2014
The League supports SB 364 making the possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense.
The LWVMD is a nonpartisan political organization that encourages informed and active participation in government with well over a thousand members in fifteen Leagues in seventeen counties of the state.
In 2012, we had a state-wide study and discussion for consensus on regulating marijuana and came to the conclusion that we would support the legalization of marijuana for any use, including medicinal uses, subject to restrictions on production and distribution.
This bill does not do that, but with a view to what can be done now to ease penalties for marijuana possession, the League supports this decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana. It is a positive step that will work to the benefit of Marylanders.
Possession of small amounts of marijuana should not put a person behind bars or involve an arrest record that will dog the person the rest of his life.
Presently, there is a great deal of racial disparity in imposing sentences in Maryland. Maryland also has a great burden on its resources for incarcerating drug offenders. These resources would be better spent on social programs to help serious drug offenders get help.
The full League study, “DRUG AND CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ABUSE, POLICIES AND LAWS IN MARYLAND,” is available as a fact sheet in the E-library on the LWVMD web site, www.lwvmd.org.