For the second year in a row, the Maryland Senate has approvedSen. Bobby Zirkin’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Today’s vote had an even wider margin than last year’s. Seven Republicans joined 29 Democrats for a 36-8 bipartisan vote. SB 364 now heads to the House Judiciary Committee for its consideration.
Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee heard nearly eight hours of testimony on proposals to decriminalize and legalize marijuana from MPP and other members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland.
SB 364 would replace criminal penalties for the possession of 10 grams of marijuana with a civil fine of up to $100. This is a much-needed measure in Maryland, which has the fourth-highest arrest rate per capita for marijuana possession. Arrest records have a devastating effect on a young person’s life, and can become an obstacle to obtaining an education, employment, and even housing. SB 364 is a strong step towards ending the ineffective and destructive prohibition of marijuana. This bill would also free up law enforcement to focus on addressing serious crimes instead of arresting adults for using a substance objectively safer than alcohol.
More than two-thirds of Maryland voters (68 percent) support changing state laws to make possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100, according to a survey conducted in September by Public Policy Polling. The full results are available at http://www.mpp.org/MDpoll.
Earlier this week, lawmakers in Des Moines once again introduced the Medical Cannabis Act for consideration. Unfortunately, the legislation will die for the year if it is not reported out of the Senate Human Resources Committee by the end of the week. If you live in Iowa, please email the committee members todayand ask them to hold a hearing on this bill.
If passed, the Medical Cannabis Act will protect Iowans with serious and debilitating medical conditions from arrest or prosecution for using medical marijuana with a doctor’s recommendation. The legislation also requires the department of public health to develop rules governing the distribution of medical marijuana to qualified patients. Twenty states and Washington, D.C. have compassionate laws on the books; it’s about time Iowa does the same.
It’s time both Republicans and Democrats in Iowa stand up for those less fortunate and allow trained medical professionals to recommend medical marijuana when they think its use is appropriate.
A new poll by Quinnipiac University reveals that 82% of Florida voters support medical marijuana. Florida advocates are currently pushing for legislation that would allow seriously ill residents to use marijuana with a recommendation from their doctors.
Support for the proposed constitutional amendment is high among voters of every political stripe, age and income level, with independents lending the most support: 88 percent, the poll shows.
The overall 82-16 percent support for medical marijuana is the biggest to date. The previous high-point for Florida approval was about 70 percent in a poll taken earlier this year by the medical marijuana advocacy group, People United for Medical Marijuana.
Nearly half of Florida voters favor [legalization] — 48 percent — while 46 percent oppose pot legalization for personal use. That’s within the margin of error, but it’s a leading indicator of a shift in public opinion. Support for legalization is again strongest among independents (57-37 percent), and then Democrats (55-39 percent).
But Republicans are opposed 30-64 percent. Contrast that with GOP voter support for medical marijuana is solid: 70-26 percent.
This week, Maryland gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur (D) released a plan to regulate marijuana like alcohol. “Marijuana is safer than alcohol and tobacco,” she told the Baltimore Sun. “It has been a failed policy for us as a nation to criminalize the use of this substance.”
Meanwhile, Attorney General Doug Gansler (D)’s spokesman said, “There does not appear to be a groundswell toward full-scale legalization here in Maryland nor does the attorney general feel that unrestrained legalization would be appropriate.”
On Tuesday, NBC and Esquire announced the results of a poll conducted by both Public Opinion Strategies and Benenson Strategy Group. The poll asked American voters a series of questions about social, economic, and political issues, and the results indicate a “new American center.” According to the poll, 51% of Americans fall into the new center: 28% of them are Republican, 36% are Democrat, and 36% Independent. The American center is also in favor of marijuana policy reform, with 52% supporting the legalization of marijuana and 34% strongly supporting the movement. You can see a breakdown of the various views of the American center here or view the full results of the poll here.