In mid-March, Maryland legislators drafted new marijuana laws which, once passed, will make it the 15th state to do away with criminal penalties for recreational amounts of marijuana. On April 1, Rhode Island officially decriminalized less than 1 ounce of marijuana, instead choosing to impose only a $150 fine on citizens found possessing this recreational amount. Both Vermont and Maine are actively drafting legislation following Rhode Island’s. However, Rhode Island is considering going one step further and legalizing marijuana, with a recent poll showing that 52% of the state’s citizens support treating marijuana no differently than alcohol. Though only 2 states, Colorado and Washington, have fully legalized marijuana for recreational use, several others are considering legislation moving in that direction. Outside of the U.S., several European countries have legalized forms of marijuana use in the last decade. The Czech Republic, the most recent country to legalize medical marijuana in February, requires patients to obtain a prescription from their doctor and then allows them to pick up their marijuana at the pharmacy just like any other medication.
Back in the U.S., most Southwestern states have passed legislation modernizing their marijuana laws by either legalizing medical use or decriminalizing recreational marijuana use. Border states in particular have been quick to realize that criminalization of marijuana use not only fuels violence along the border, but also wastes tremendous amounts of increasingly limited law enforcement and taxpayer resources. In fact, Texas is the only U.S. state that shares a border with Mexico that has not legalized medical marijuana.
Elsewhere throughout the South, Kentucky considers anything less than 8 ounces or 5 plants to be a ticketable misdemeanor, Mississippi only requires a $250 fine for anything under 30 grams, and North Carolina has all but decriminalized marijuana by stating that amounts under 14 grams are “not arrestable offenses” that are typically thrown out of court while the maximum fine for up to 10 pounds is $1,000, though judges have the discretion to impose no fine. With so many of our neighbor states reforming their outdated marijuana laws, Texas residents are left wondering “when will we?”
The sponsor of Maryland’s recent marijuana decriminalization bill, Maryland Senator Robert A. Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) cited the need to avoid overspending on peaceful citizens with possession of small amounts of marijuana as the primary reason every state should take a fresh look at the marijuana laws on its books, stating “It is a tremendous waste of resources.” Another Maryland legislator, Senator Nancy Jacobs (R-Harford) cited a more personal reason for supporting the bill. She did so because she said her husband has cancer and under Maryland law, she would face only a civil citation if she chose to buy “about two joints” to ease his pain. “I think it’s really important to people with family members who might have cancer to be able to do this,” Jacobs testified to the Maryland Senate.
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Gilbert Garcia has been Passionately Pursuing Justice for over 30 years and founded The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm in 2008. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is a boutique law firm, specializing in Criminal Defense. Gilbert represents adults and juveniles accused of a crime and who have with a felony, misdemeanor or record cleaning case. Conveniently located on the courthouse square to serve Montgomery and Walker Counties. Gilbert became Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1989. The Gilbert G. Garcia Law Firm is located at 220 N. Thompson St., Suite 202, Conroe, TX 77301. www.ggglawfirm.com.
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