Maryland House And Senate Committees Consider Drug Decriminalization Bills

Maryland House And Senate Committees Consider Drug Decriminalization Bills
MJ moment

“We need to have a conversation about whether a criminal justice response is the appropriate one, so this is a first step to try and get us there.” By Hannah Gaskill, Maryland Matters House and Senate lawmakers are making another attempt this session to limit criminal penalties for Marylanders who use illicit drugs. House Judiciary Committee Vice Chair David Moon (D-Montgomery) and Sen. Jill P. Carter (D-Baltimore City) are support legislation to move first and second offenses for the possession of small quantities of controlled dangerous substances to civil rather than criminal offenses. ​​”Lowering penalties for possession of amounts of drugs too small to merit consideration in a court of law would bring our criminal justice system into the 21st century,” Jennifer Mendes Dwyer, deputy executive director of Progressive Maryland, said in a statement Tuesday. During a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, Moon said the legislation is an “attempt to codify some personal use amount limit.” But he’d prefer it if lawmakers focus on the idea that a public health response is better than a carceral response for low-level, non-violent possession cases. “We need to have a conversation about whether a criminal justice response is the appropriate one, so this is a first step to try and get us there,” Moon said.

If enacted, House Bill 1054 and Senate Bill 784 would impose fines and require referrals for drug and mental health treatment for convictions of possession of less than: 10 grams of cannabis; Two grams of cocaine; 1.5 grams of crack; One gram of heroin; One gram or five tablets of ecstasy; 40 tabs of LSD; 40 doses of methadone; Two grams of meth; or 40 tablets of oxycodone. Penalties for first offense convictions for possession of those amounts would be subject to a $100 fine. Second offenses would be…

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