Governor Martin O’Malley has announced he will be signing the recently passed bill decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.
It’s a baby step in the right direction.
For amounts under 10 grams — well under half an ounce — the penalty will be a $100 fine for the first offense, $250 for a second, and $500 for a third. On the third offense there will also be the possibility of a referral for mandatory drug treatment.
Court-ordered drug treatment is nearly the only reason why marijuana users ever end up in drug treatment; anecdotally, such orders are popular among treatment centers because they pad the centers’ numbers with easily treated pot users, who would otherwise usually quit on their own anyway.
Penalties will remain as they are for possession of larger amounts of pot, for distributing, for intent to distribute — a notoriously flexible category — and of course for all other drugs.
It’s far from a perfect measure, but it’s better than what we had before. How’s your state doing?