Marijuana Decriminalization Advances in Senate

On March 7, the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee voted 8-3 to report favorably on SB 364, a bill to make possession of marijuana a civil rather than criminal offense, sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D 11, Baltimore). Sens. Frosh (D), Brochin (D), Forehand (D), Jacobs (R), Muse (D), Raskin (D), Shank (R), and Zirkin (D) voted in favor. The three opposed were Gladden (D), Hershey (R), and Stone (D). Not a very partisan vote.

Today, the Senate accepted two amendments offered by Chris Shank (R 2, Washington). The first amendment allows courts to sentence offenders to drug treatment programs. The second requires any monies collected to go toward drug treatment and education. Both were accepted by the sponsor and the bill passed second reading in the Senate without a recorded vote.

The marijuana decriminalization bill now moves towards third and final reading in the Senate. At this point, no more amendments may be offered, so third reading will likely consist of an up or down vote on the merits of the bill as it stands. Obviously, the House of Delegates would need to pass the same bill for it to become law.