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Maryland Senate Votes to Reduce Pot Penalties


The Maryland Senate overwhelmingly approved a bill that would reduce the penalties for marijuana possession. In a 30-16 vote, the Senate adopted SB 297, which would reduce the penalties for use or possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana.

The bill would make such violations a civil offense punishable by only a $100 fine. Currently, being caught with a small amount of marijuana in Maryland is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $500 fine.

Now that the measure has passed the Senate it has been referred to the House. According to his press office, Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) hasn’t officially taken a position yet on whether or not he would sign or veto the bill if it got to his desk. O’Malley, though, has recently shown a greater openness to marijuana reform. Earlier this month his administration dropped its opposition to medical marijuana legislation.

If Maryland adopts the law, it will join the more than a dozen other states that have decriminalized or legalized small amounts of marijuana.

Photo by Luigi Anzivino released under Creative Commons License

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at

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