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Maryland May Be Getting Soft On Marijuana

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Maryland looks to soften penalties against marijuana users. 
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Maryland looks to soften penalties against marijuana users. 

The Maryland Senate could vote by the end of the week on a bill that would lessen penalties for anyone caught with 10 grams or less of marijuana.

Senate Bill 297 would make possession of 10 grams or less, which is now classified as a "de minimus" amount, a non-jailable offense. The harshest penalty would be a $100 fine.  Under the current law, getting caught with 10 grams or less carries a maximum 90 day jail time and a $500 fine.

Supporters say 10 grams equates to about two cigarettes worth of marijuana, and is a minor offense.

Senators were ready to advance the bill yesterday until Republican Senate leader E.J. Pipken of the Eastern Shore asked for a delay. He says he wants more information on the measure as well as others regarding marijuana currently in the General Assembly, one of which would legalize the drug.

"Are we becoming Colorado and this is just an interim step?" asked Pipken. "Each year you come back and keep kicking at this, so eventually I assume the model is to become Colorado."

Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize marijuana last year, doing so via voter referendum.

The bill legalizing marijuana in Maryland has been introduced in the House of Delegates, but it doesn't appear the support is there right now to pass it. Last week, the O'Malley administration signaled that they were changing their attitudes towards medical marijuana.

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