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O'Malley Says He's Not Inclined To Support Marijuana Legalization In Maryland

As the Maryland General Assembly convened in Annapolis yesterday, Gov. Martin O'Malley said he's "not inclined" to support legalization or decriminalization of marijuana in the state.

Given that this is an election year, even the most ardent supporters of legalizing marijuana in Maryland admit this probably isn't the session for them to get it passed. But Montgomery County Democrat Jamie Raskin, who will introduce the Senate version of a legalization bill, isn't ready to concede anything yet.

"I remember when people told me it was not realistic to think we would get marriage equality, it was not realistic that we would repeal the death penalty. So to my mind, realism is a question of political will," he said.

But no matter what the Senate or House do, O'Malley says he isn't supporting legalization or decriminalization, pretty much putting a stop to it this session. But O'Malley won't be governor next year, so supporters could have a better chance in 2015 with a new governor.

Of the three Democrats seeking to succeed O'Malley, Montgomery County Del. Heather Mizeur supports legalizing marijuana, taxing it and using the revenue to pay for early childhood education programs. Attorney General Doug Gansler sounds open to the idea, but says plenty of questions must still be answered that have nothing to do with revenue — most of them about enforcing new laws.

"If you look at what happened with the legalization of marijuana in Colorado it's really been a disaster in terms of the enforcement mechanisms. Something in the notion of 90 percent of all prescriptions written in Colorado for arthritis are to people under 26-years-old," he said.

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown also has many questions on how changes would affect the ability of police to fight crime effectively.

"If decriminalizing marijuana enables us to do that. So they can focus their efforts in criminal activities that is more injurious, harmful, and threatening to our communities, then we ought to take a look at that," he said.

Last year, a bill to legalize marijuana received a single House committee hearing, but was never voted on.


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