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Maryland lawmakers consider marijuana legalization

Across the country, drug laws are beginning to change. Anyone involved in criminal charges related to marijuana now and in the future needs to be aware of local and state laws regarding the drug to launch a valid defense. In Maryland, where the possession, growth and sale of marijuana is currently illegal, lawmakers are considering another proposal to legalize some aspects of cannabis use.

The Marijuana Control Act of 2014, proposed by two state legislators, wouldn't make all marijuana activity legal. The act would let residents who are at least 21 years old possess up to one ounce of marijuana legally. Residents could also grow up to six plants in or around their home, but could not smoke the substance in public.

In addition to giving adult residents of the state legal access to marijuana, the act would put a tax and regulation structure in force. According to lawmakers, taxing legal marijuana consumption would increase funding for public schools, substance abuse treatment and public construction projects.

While it's still questionable whether the measure will pass into law, a Nov. 2013 poll found 51 percent of state residents supported legalization. Approximately 40 percent of residents opposed legalization. Past bills to legalize various aspects of marijuana use have failed in the state legislature.

Legislators who support the bill have talked publicly about how legalizing marijuana will reduce drug crime in the state. By removing control of marijuana from illegal sectors, the state can control the message around the drug and better keep it from young children, say proponents of the measure. If legalization does pass, it will change how individuals defend against marijuana charges - defendants will only have to prove their possession was within the law.

Source: Southern Maryland Online, "Lawmakers Introduce Measure to Legalize, Tax Marijuana in Md." Megan Brockett, Jan. 19, 2014

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