The Maryland General Assembly voted this week to override Gov. Larry Hogan’s veto of SB 517, decriminalizing marijuana paraphernalia.
SB 517, introduced by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), removes criminal penalties for possession of marijuana paraphernalia. The measure also imposes a new civil fine of up to $500 on public cannabis consumption. Gov. Hogan vetoed the bill in May 2015, after it was approved 32-13 in the Senate and 83-53 in the House of Delegates.
Maryland adopted a law in 2014 that was intended to decriminalize simple marijuana possession, but it did not include marijuana paraphernalia.
The work is not over, however. Until cannabis is legal and regulated for adults, Marylanders who choose to consume a substance safer than alcohol will still be stigmatized as lawbreakers, racially biased enforcement of marijuana laws will continue to result in unequal justice, and the marijuana market will continue to be in the shadows.
The Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland believes that regulating marijuana like alcohol is the best policy option — and a new poll released Thursday shows that 53% of Maryland voters agree.