Law Enforcement Agencies Review New Marijuana Policies

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Now that a new marijuana law is taking effect, law enforcement agencies are looking at how they’ll change their ways.

Political reporter Pat Warren says each jurisdiction will answer for itself.

As with any new law, there’s some training in enforcement procedures to be expected.

Law enforcement agencies statewide are reviewing the state’s new policy on penalties for possession of marijuana.

“This new law is clearly a work in progress,” said Rob Weinhold, Crisis and Issues Management.

Under the new law, possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense with jail time; it’s a civil violation with a fine.

But there are questions. For example, there may be less than 10 grams of weed in the bowl but the pipe, papers and other paraphernalia are still a criminal offense. So will the officer write a citation for the pot but arrest you for the paraphernalia?

Law enforcement anticipates questions on issues like probably cause and paraphernalia.

“There will be ongoing conference with the attorney general’s office, with the state’s attorney and then police departments across the state will have to figure out how to best educate and train the officers who are on the street so they can enforce the law in a proper manner,” Weinhold said.

Maryland State Police tell WJZ, “Troopers will continue to use discretion. Instruction and training will be provided” and “This is not expected to be a significant change for our troopers.”

Baltimore City Police are “…still reviewing the bill and the impact on enforcement moving forward.”

Anne Arundel County Police will “seek guidance from International Association of Chiefs of Police for best practices…this will have a minimal if not non-existent effect” on policing strategies in Anne Arundel.

“I don’t think it will materially change the way officers approach their job. They’re still gonna look for people with pot, they’re still gonna engage those people and whether it is criminal or civil will depend on how much someone has,” Weinhold said.

Lawmakers have already said they’ll be looking at other aspects of decriminalizing, including drug paraphernalia, next year.

The law takes effect Oct. 1.

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