If you have ever been arrested for possessing marijuana, you may know that the state has been working to decriminalize the drug. You need to defend yourself regardless of the potential punishments; any drug charge can leave you frustrated and facing penalties. The benefit of decriminalization is that you can be caught with a drug and not face as serious of penalties. You could be asked to seek drug treatment or pay a penalty, but the charges wouldn’t usually affect you as seriously as a misdemeanor or a felony.
The House of Delegates has determined that a bill that raises fines for smoking marijuana in public is necessary in the state; the bill passed and will make public smoking a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $500.
The bill caused a rift in the house, with some people arguing that it would hurt the trust between the police and youth, while other said that exposing the public to marijuana smoke is a health hazard. With marijuana again criminalized, it could mean more arrests of the young with more people paying fines and seeing marks on their criminal records.
One delegate pointed out that smoking marijuana in public is already an illegal act, but under this bill, the punishment is harsh. The bill could have a disproportionate effect on black people, according to one delegate, while another argued that the fact was that she had to avoid certain places to avoid marijuana smoke. It’s not clear why, if the act is already illegal, the delegate had to avoid certain locations due to marijuana smoke.
Source: The Washington Times, “Maryland House passes bill that would strengthen marijuana penalties,” Anjali Shastry, March 21, 2016