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Supporters Square Off With Law Enforcement On Marijuana Legality

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Marijuana remains the attention-getter in Annapolis this week. The state Senate takes a final vote on decriminalizing marijuana Friday.

Political reporter Pat Warren reports supporters squared off with law enforcement over bills proposed in the House.

Law enforcement took on marijuana in Annapolis Thursday.

“To think that we’re going to stand by and allow these baby boomers to try to get this marijuana passed, the decriminalization and/or legalization, we won’t stand by and allow it to happen without at least imparting our experience as law enforcement officers working the trenches,” said Mike Lewis, Wicomico County sheriff.

And some so-called boomers are taking on the law.

“The incredible damage caused by our current policy is horrible to me,” said Dave Hackett.

In a new Goucher poll, 46 percent of Marylanders say they’ve tried it, and 67 percent of those who tried it say it should be legalized. Of those who have not tried it, 35 percent are for legalizing it. Overall, 50 percent favor legalization, 39 percent oppose.

Marylanders rallied at Lawyers Mall on Thursday morning for other, more personal reasons.

“My son’s in prison. That’s why I’m out here,” a Baltimore resident said.

“I was taken to jail and imprisoned for 22 hours without a phone call,” said David Kosner, Baltimore resident.

Supporters of decriminalization also contend that enforcement is racially biased.

“African-Americans and whites use marijuana with the exact same frequency, but African-Americans go to jail three times more often. Our prohibition laws keep our law enforcement from focusing on more violent and serious crimes,” said Del. Heather Mizeur, gubernatorial candidate.

Mizeur believes the state should regulate and tax marijuana, but for many in law enforcement, state regulating is not the answer.

“If the state has control, if the state is gonna regulate it, tax it and can control it, you can rest assured there will be the underground world, i.e. black market, who will be bent on getting higher grade marijuana, more purified marijuana and working to perfect that ideal strain that would take you on the cusp of the perfect high,” Lewis said.

The House Judiciary Committee heard five variations of marijuana bills Thursday.

The Senate bill reduces the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana from 90 days in jail to a $100 fine.

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