Maryland may eliminate drug charges for marijuana

The 2014 Maryland General Assembly will consider bills that could change drug laws in the state. The House and Senate may vote to legalize recreational marijuana use in Maryland. The proposed legislation is called The Marijuana Control Act of 2014. It could change the nature of drug charges brought in the state.

The legislation is modeled off of laws in Colorado. That state legalized recreational use on Jan. 1, 2014. Marijuana in Colorado is taxed and regulated like alcohol. Some Maryland legislators want a similar system. They say they want to eliminate the ‘underground market’ and put pot in the hands of private business operators.

Lawmakers say that marijuana arrests lead to serious consequences. These can ruin defendants’ lives. Those convicted of drug offenses may not be able to get a job, an education or even an apartment. African American Marylanders are more likely to be arrested for marijuana use. President Obama said in early January that ‘poor kids’ get locked up more often marijuana usage than middle-class kids do.

Some Democratic lawmakers oppose the measure. They say legalization for recreational use is not necessary to fix the cases that ‘clog up the system.’ It seems that lawmakers are somewhat divided about this issue. The governor opposes legalizing recreational pot.

A change in Maryland drug laws could change the way drug offenses are handled. Those possessing marijuana might not face drug charges or arrest. Criminal defendants facing drug charges deserve to be treated fairly. This legislative change could protect more defendants’ rights. It could open doors for those who have been victimized by overzealous drug enforcement measures.