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Both Maryland Legislative Bodies Introduce Marijuana Legalization Legislation

Although Maryland has decriminalized Marijuana, UMBC has not updated policy

In both the Maryland Senate and the Maryland State House of Delegates, legislation has been introduced in order to legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana. Senate Bill 531 and House Bill 911, also known as The Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015, would permit adults aged 21 and over to personally grow, cultivate, sell and buy marijuana.

Adults would be allowed to purchase and possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 5 grams of hashish, 16 ounces of marijuana infused edibles and 72 ounces of marijuana infused liquids. For non-commercial purposes, adults would be allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants. Both bills are currently sponsored by over 40 legislators, all of whom are Democrats.

Late last year, Governor Martin O’Malley signed a bill officially decriminalizing marijuana. Currently in Maryland, being caught possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana for the first time results in a civil ticket with a fine of up to $100.

“The Marijuana Control and Revenue Act is the next step on the road to saner drug policy in Maryland,” stated Sara Love, the public policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland, in a press release statement.

“ … Our state has the opportunity to move beyond the tragic costs of the counterproductive ‘war on drugs,’” Love continued, “and toward increased revenue that can be used to support policies that strengthen communities.”

According to federal analysis based upon similar Maryland legislation proposed in 2014, more than $95 million dollars would be made in state tax revenue on commercially-sold marijuana. The Maryland representatives who have introduced the marijuana legalization bills have proposed that future commercial marijuana revenue be directed toward education and development sectors.

Although marijuana has been fully decriminalized in Maryland, UMBC has not altered its campus marijuana policies. UMBC Students for Sensible Drug Policy President Nitin Sampathi, a senior graphic design major, is critical of this.

“Students shouldn’t be penalized for making a safer choice,” Simpathi said, referring to studies that have suggested that marijuana is safer to use than alcohol. “On campus, marijuana should be treated the same as alcohol.” Simpathi expressed his belief that “both UMBC and SSDP want to reduce drug usage,” but that that does not happen “through criminalization.”

Sampathi said, “it’s ironic that we’re a research university but we choose to ignore the research that goes against our policies.“ The UMBC Student Government Association (SGA) has yet to comment on Maryland’s marijuana policies.

In a Gallup poll taken in late 2013, 58% of Americans said that they would be in favor of legalizing and regulating marijuana whereas 39% of Americans said that they are opposed.