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50% of States Have Now Loosened Their Pot Laws

Maryland will jump on the bandwagon with Gov. Martin O'Malley's signature
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2014 1:41 PM CDT
50% of States Have Now Loosened Their Pot Laws
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley speaks with reporters in his office inside the Maryland State House in Annapolis, Md., Monday, April 7, 2014.   (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

(Newser) – According to Pew research, at least 24 states have decriminalized marijuana, legalized it, or OKed its medical use (by this map, it looks like 26); Maryland looks poised to be the 18th in the decriminalization category, per the Baltimore Sun's count. With its approval by the state Senate yesterday, a bill to decriminalize small quantities of pot is headed to Gov. Martin O'Malley's desk—and he says he'll sign it, the Washington Post reports. Instead of possible jail time, possession of less than 10 grams of pot (that's about a third of an ounce) will result in a $100 fine; a second offense will call for a $250 fine, and a third a $500 penalty.

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There are a few other stipulations beyond money: A third offense would also result in a court-ordered drug assessment, and offenders under 21 would have to show up in court. Noting his own changing views, the Verge reports O'Malley calls the bill "an acknowledgment of the low priority that our courts, our prosecutors, our police, and the vast majority of citizens already attach to this transgression of public order and public health. Such an acknowledgment in law might even lead to a greater focus on far more serious threats to public safety and the lives of our citizens." Maryland's neighbor recently made a similar move. (Read more marijuana stories.)

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