By Pat Warren

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Now that Maryland is decriminalizing marijuana, could legalization be far behind?

Political reporter Pat Warren has some answers from leading candidates.

Now that marijuana is decriminalized, it’s off the back burner and planted squarely in the political platforms of gubernatorial candidates.

Marijuana legal and marijuana light. WJZ viewers sound off on lighter penalties versus legalization.

“I’m fine with decriminalizing it,” one viewer said.

“I think people have the right to do what they want when there’s no victim,” said another.

Democrats Doug Gansler, Anthony Brown and Heather Mizeur agree that decriminalization is good public policy, but differ on legalizing it.

“I don’t support, at this point, legalization of marijuana. There are two states at least, Colorado and Washington, that have passed that. Let’s use this opportunity to gauge their experience,” Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said.

“I think decriminalization is a step toward legalization ultimately,” said Attorney General Doug Gansler. “But I think we have to make sure we do it incrementally and over time and make sure some other states do it first.”

But there’s also a voice for legalizing.

“Decriminalization this year, legalization in 2015. We’re going to get these things done,” said Del. Heather Mizeur, (D) Montgomery County.

“I think it’s perfectly alright, as long as it’s legalized and controlled and taxed,” one supporter said.

“It’s nothing criminal in the first place. It grows in the ground and it’s just a natural thing and I don’t see what’s so illegal about it,” said another.

Mizeur sponsored the decriminalization bill in the House, but fully supports legalization.

“For an adult, making a decision to use marijuana is really no more harmful and arguably less so than alcohol or tobacco and we should treat it that way in our laws,” Mizeur said.

It’s an issue that has Maryland sounding off.

“I have no objection to the decriminalization of marijuana. It’s about time,” one viewer said.

“Marijuana is a drug of choice. My drug of choice is chocolate,” said another.

The decriminalization bill replaces jail time with a fine. It passed the General Assembly this week.

The bill is on the governor’s desk and he says he will sign it.

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