Marijuana Possession Gets a More Fitting Penalty
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Marijuana Possession Gets a More Fitting Penalty
Posted by CN Staff on March 20, 2013 at 20:09:15 PT
Washington Post Editorial Board
Source: Washington Post
MD -- The Maryland Senate’s vote to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana would not, as some critics warn, make it okay to use the drug. Such use would still be illegal, but it would be a civil offense, punishable by fines rather than imprisonment. Not only would this save law enforcement valuable resources but also prevent the lives of many young people from being ruined. We hope the House of Delegates follows the Senate’s lead and that Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) signs this sensible measure into law.The bill passed the Senate on a 30 to 16 vote Tuesday. People now caught with up to 10 grams of marijuana, about one-third of an ounce, may face up to 90 days in jail and a fine up to $500; the Senate proposal would eliminate any jail time and provide for a fine up to $100. The reduction from a criminal misdemeanor is aimed at recreational users of marijuana, not those who traffic in illegal drug sales. 
The lopsided, bipartisan vote in favor of the change is a reflection of the changing attitudes about marijuana and the unintended costs of strict anti-pot laws. More than a dozen states have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana possession, and some have gone so far as to legalize the drug for various uses. Bills that would have Maryland join states such as Colorado and Washington in legalizing the drug for various uses are also pending in Annapolis, but they are unlikely to advance because of justifiable concerns about being at odds with federal law. Decriminalization poses no such conflict and would, as its sponsor, Sen. Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County), pointed out, eliminate “a tremendous waste of resources.” There were more than 24,000 arrests last year in Maryland for marijuana possession, according to Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project, who argued that the time spent processing those arrests could be better spent on other, more serious crimes. Equally significant is the fact that most of those arrested are young people, predominantly African Americans, who end up with the taint of a criminal charge that makes it harder for them to get a job, stay in school or resist getting involved in more serious crimes.Opponents of decriminalization worry about the “message” that would be sent. Concerns about the risks associated with marijuana abuse cannot be discounted and — just as with liquor and cigarettes — young people should be discouraged from its use. But wasted resources and ruined lives are too high a price to pay for sending a message that can still be delivered with more appropriate and reasonable penalties. Editorials represent the views of The Washington Post as an institution, as determined through debate among members of the editorial board. News reporters and editors never contribute to editorial board discussions, and editorial board members don’t have any role in news coverage.Source: Washington Post (DC) Published: March 20, 2013Copyright: 2013 Washington Post CompanyContact: letters Website: URL:  -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #2 posted by HempWorld on March 21, 2013 at 16:05:01 PT
Well Said mark702!
Hear hear!
Justin Bieber Smoking Weed!
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Comment #1 posted by mark702 on March 21, 2013 at 12:42:07 PT:
More Fitting?
The title of this article is questionable. Responsible adult use of cannabis should not be subject to punishment as a civil offense with fines. It's obviously better than current law, but that doesn't mean it's "more fitting". An analogy would be saying it's "more fitting" if a law that outlawed large sodas was reduced from jail time to a $500 fine.In both cases, the law is illogical, contradictory to scientific medical facts, and is outright unconstitutional as well as being immoral and an attack on the personal freedoms and liberties that the American people have a right to based on natural inalienable rights, our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
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