Maryland decriminalizes marijuana, Maryland behind the wheel

Maryland decriminalizes marijuana

As of Oct. 1, the law about the possession of marijuana changed.

Instead of carrying criminal charges and a record, the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will now only carry a $100 fine, “similar to a speeding ticket,” according to WBAL. In the past, equivalent possession could have led to a $500 fine and or a 90 day prison sentence.

Although there is only a fine, penalties are still in place. Not only will the fine be enacted, but the marijuana will be taken. Also, repeated offenses may cause higher fines and eventually drug education.

“I feel like the decriminalization of marijuana will expand the market and make it easier to obtain which will result in more use,” a student who wishes to remain anonymous said.

In a poll conducted on Feb. 6, the Patriot found that, out of 99 responses, 37 percent of students thought that Maryland’s laws concerning marijuana were completely fair.

However, this does not change the policy that JC has in place.

“We still have a drug and alcohol policy that will be enforced and it isn’t 10 grams. It is zero grams. If you bring drugs or alcohol onto the campus then the policy will be in effect,” Powell said.

In the 2014-2015 student handbook, it states that “Possession, consumption, sale, or use of illegal drugs, alcohol, unauthorized prescription drugs, inhalants, or performance enhancing supplements or “look-alikes” in any quantity on school grounds, whether school is in session or not, will result in three or four demerits and may result in dismissal from school.”

Although the laws about possession of marijuana have changed, smoking it still carries a heavier penalty, depending on amount and whether or not the person has intent to distribute.

“Being a private school, we have to protect our school. We can’t let one person outside of what we expect bring down our name for all of the other people doing the right stuff,” Powell said. “If you want to bring drugs to school and use them, know that it will change your life.”

Maryland behind the wheel

You’re going to have to think before you drive in Maryland, and wait.

To obtain a driver’s license, one must complete a 30 hour driver’s education course, have six hours worth of driving time with a licensed instructor, have 60 hours of driving with a licensed adult over the age of 21, obtain a note from school saying that they have a decent attendance record, and perform a driving test that includes parallel parking and a two-point turn.

According to a surveymonkey poll on Feb. 6, 53 percent of students think that the difficulty level for obtaining a driver’s license in Maryland is fair. However, anonymous responses stated that “it is not too hard to obtain the license, it just takes way too long to get it.” In Maryland, it takes a minimum of nine months to obtain the license after receiving the permit.

“I would advise everyone to get [their permit] as soon as they can. I got my permit late and I regret it because now I have to rely on others for rides,” junior Caroline Angert said.

After the first license test, the restrictions are not over. New drivers may not drive anyone under 21 except for immediate family members until five months after they obtained their provisional license. They also may not drive after 12 a.m. or before 5 a.m. until they are 18, unless they are driving to or from a school event or work.

Recent legislature has also increased the penalty on cell phone usage while driving. “Jake’s law” now imposes a much heavier penalty than the laws that were in place, including a $5,000 fine and a maximum one-year jail sentence if there is an injury or death as a result from distracted driving.

Mitch Hopkins is a News Editor for The Patriot and