Marijuana users celebrate tomorrow

Tomorrow if you have less than 10 grams of marijuana….you do not face up to one year in jail in Maryland. Some say it is about time. Most of my clients are cheering.

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Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed two marijuana related bills into law that will go into effect tomorrow, October 1st. The first decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will be a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

Removing these petty cases from the criminal docket will certainly free up some of the District Court dockets. I am excited for the new law to go into effect! The decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana will free up resources to fund additional substance abuse treatment, drug prevention and job training efforts, and education.

There is no excuse for criminalizing people simply for possessing small amounts of marijuana. For years, legislators have been coming up with excuses, but this time they came up with a solution.

My favorite part of this new law is the issues we will soon face about what police can use as probable cause for a search. This will be interesting and as a criminal defense attorney, I am all over this!

The second law that will go into effect tomorrow protects patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Under the law, patients will get medicine from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. They will also have to get approval from doctors who are approved by the state, and have an identification card before they can access a licensed dispensary.

I say Welcome to Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state!

We are finally moving in the right direction.