Starting tomorrow, Maryland is moving forward on lowering penalties for crimes related to marijuana.
According to WTOP.com, under a bill passed by the Maryland General Assembly in April, possessing a small amount of marijuana will no longer be a crime. According to measure SB 364, having less than 10 grams of marijuana will be a civil offense, similar to a traffic ticket. There will be nothing noted on a person’s criminal record and the penalty won’t include any jail time.
For people over 21 years old, a first offense is a $100 fine. A second and third offense would lead to $250 and $500 fines. If there’s a third offense, a person can be ordered to appear in court and forced to attend a drug education program. For people younger than 21, penalties will be similar to underage drinking. For a first offense, they may be ordered to appear in court and also attend a drug education program. People younger than 18 will be subject to juvenile court procedures.
There is one issue with the new measure–Maryland lawmakers never addressed the issue of marijuana paraphernalia, which means that possessing something that is used to smoke marijuana, such as a pipe, can still lead to a crime. That means that having marijuana paraphernalia can lead to a more serious offense than having the marijuana itself.