Marijuana legalization proposed in Maryland

Maryland could soon see the legalization of recreational marijuana. Lawmakers have submitted a bill that could make it legal to use, grow, and sell marijuana in the state.

Bills aimed at the legalization of marijuana in the state have shown generally favorable support, with 53 percent of Maryland voters supporting the taxation and regulation of recreational marijuana and 38 percent opposing it, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The Marijuana Control Act of 2014 would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. It would also allow for the growth, cultivation, and selling of marijuana. Smoking the drug in public would still be illegal.

The bill proposes marijuana purchases to be taxed like alcohol, with an excise tax of $50 per ounce, which could generate over $90 million annually.

Junior Jen Linsenmeyer acknowledges the advantages of legalization, however disagrees with the recreational use of it. “It can help manage cancer pain, it’s a medical thing, but it is still a bad thing to do, in my opinion,” Linsenmeyer said.

Not everyone in Annapolis agrees with the bill. Governor Martin O’Malley expressed opposition to the bill in an interview on The Marc Steiner Radio Show calling it a “gateway to more harmful activity.”

The ACLU reported Maryland as having the fourth greatest amount of arrests for marijuana possession. Adversaries of marijuana legalization say that the effects of marijuana have proven to be only negative and police need to crack down on marijuana possession.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana is the most abused illegal drug in the United States, and it is second only to alcohol as a cause of substance dependence. Those who disagree with the legalization of marijuana argue that legalizing marijuana would only increase the number of people dependent on marijuana.

Senior Lindsay Kraus believes marijuana should be legalized. “[Legalizing] it will take the stigma out of the mystery behind smoking marijuana. Those who smoke will seem like less of a rebel,” Kraus said.

Freshman Phil Prevosto thinks it should be legalized as well. “It’s not that bad. It helps people suffering from illness and close to dying cope with their pain,” Prevosto said.

Advocates for marijuana legalization cite that the “war on drugs” has proven to be, for the most part, unsuccessful, and it has even produced higher revenues for drug gangs in the state. However, those in favor of cracking down harder on the “war on drugs,” like O’Malley, believe that marijuana has no positive effects. “We’ve seen what drug addiction has done to the people of our state,” O’Malley said on The Marc Steiner Radio Show.

Senior Haley Kyger disagrees with the legislation to legalize marijuana. “Legalizing marijuana will lead to more hardcore drugs, which have negative effects, to be tolerated by society, which it shouldn’t,” Kyger said.

Marijuana supporters in Maryland have used Colorado’s success as a major rallying point against opponents of recreational marijuana use. Recreational marijuana use in Colorado has produced more than $5 million in taxed and regulated sales in only seven days, according to the Huffington Post.

“If it’s illegal or not, people who wouldn’t do it still aren’t going to do it because they know it’s bad” Linsenmeyer said.

Advocates for marijuana legalization in Maryland hope that legalization and the Marijuana Control Act of 2014 will finally deal with the negative effects of marijuana in the state. If Democrats in the state get their way, Maryland will stand beside Washington state and Colorado as one of the few states with legalized recreational marijuana use.

Billy Jump is a Copy Editor for The Patriot and