BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Possessing a small amount of marijuana will no longer come with jail time.
Tracey Leong explains how it works.
The law went into effect Wednesday, making it just a civil violation for people who are found with less than 10 grams of marijuana.
It’s a controversial topic that has both sides speaking up.
In April, Maryland became the 18th state to decriminalize the possession of marijuana and it was met with a fiery response from the Maryland State House.
“House of Delegates, you can do better. Our people deserve better; our kids deserve a better message and this is not it,” said Delegate Michael McDermott.
Under the law, possession of 10 grams or less is not a criminal offense. Instead, it is a civil violation with a fine of up to $100.
“Going to jail for that amount of drugs is a little ridiculous, especially marijuana,” said Christopher Lewis. “I don’t even think that’s a drug.”
“They get in the habit, something bad is going to come out of it,” said June Hopkins Spratley.
While there are mixed reactions to the law, some are concerned with how it will be enforced. Sgt. Marc Black says they will err on the side of caution.
“It’s something we are going to have to work out and work hard with, do our best to deal with the law the way it’s written,” Black said.
While the new law doesn’t legalize marijuana, many say it’s one step closer in that direction.
“People could just legally get it. People could get jobs and it wouldn’t be held against you if you have it in your system,” said Shereese Blackwell.
“I think it’s a good thing. It’s a really stupid thing to waste law enforcement’s time on,” said Becky Peterson.
The possession of drug paraphernalia remains unchanged and is still considered a misdemeanor. Law enforcement says only time will tell how the law will affect Maryland and their legal system.
“Once they do weigh in on it, I think at that point and time, we will have a better perspective on how to proceed,” Black said.
If people under 21 are caught having less than 10 grams of marijuana, the penalty is similar to underage drinking, which could include suspension of their license and they would be required to take a drug education program.
A second offense for possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana is $250 and a third offense is $500.
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