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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Maryland lawmakers on Monday will introduce legislation to regulate and tax marijuana for adult use.

Senate and House bill sponsors will hold a press conference on Monday to discuss the details. The conference will be at 1 p.m. in the House Office Building in Annapolis.

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Lt. Clark Pennington, Frederick Police Department:
“Decriminalization of marijuana in the state of Maryland does not constitute the legalization of marijuana”
[LinkedIn]

Two bills will be introduced in each chamber. One would make cannabis legal for adults 21 and older, and regulate its production and sale similarly to alcohol. The other would enact taxes on non-medical marijuana.According to the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition, marijuana taxes would generate “tens of millions of dollars per year for the state.”Another good argument for legalizing weed, rather than just decriminalizing it, was made recently when the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that police are still allowed to search a car without a warrant if they claim they smell a marijuana odor.“Decriminalization of marijuana in the state of Maryland does not constitute the legalization of marijuana…and that’s kind of what the High Court has basically said — that the smell of marijuana still constitutes probable cause,” said commander of criminal investigations for the Frederick Police Department, Lt. Clark Pennington, reports Jordan Lindsay at Your4State.

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Del. David Moon, Maryland House of Delegates:
Co-sponsors the legalization bill

The Maryland General Assembly decriminalized possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana in 2014. Less than 10 grams now results in a fine.“That’s part of the decriminalization process,” Lt. Pennington said. “There is a fine for possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana. It becomes a criminal offense if you…posses more than 10 grams of marijuana. So, that’s kind of the difference if there’s a fine of just a citation, or they’re actually just arrested,” Pennington said.

Police say they see a lot of cases where a person’s car is searched due to marijuana odor. Possessing more than 10 grams, selling marijuana, and possession of drug paraphernalia all remain criminal offenses in Maryland.

Lead sponsors for the legalization bill in the Senate are Democrats Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr., vice chair of the Senate Budget and Tax Committee, and Sen. William C. Smith, Jr.

Lead sponsors in the House of Delegates are Democrats Del. Mary Washington and Del. David Moon.

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