Bill Could Legalize, Tax and Regulate Marijuana in Maryland

- ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Things got heated Tuesday in Annapolis, as the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee heard testimony on a bill to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana in Maryland.

People over 21 years old would be allowed to have up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six marijuana plants if the bill passes in the State House.

Senator Jamie Raskin, the bill's sponsor, says he hopes
Maryland joins Colorado in legalizing marijuana, but others made their opposition to it very clear.

"Our experience with marijuana prohibition has been a disaster. Since Richard Nixon declared the war on marijuana, the supply has not gone down, the demand hasn't gone down, all we've succeeded in doing is building up the power of the drug dealers," said Raskin, (
D-Montgomery County).

Hundreds of people turned out to testify both for and against the bill, The Marijuana Taxation and Regulation Act. Senator Chris Shank serves on the Judicial Proceedings Committee and said he plans to vote against it.

"I am 100 percent opposed to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. I think that's a very dangerous piece of legislation. States that have done that, particularly
Colorado and Washington, have seen increased traffic fatalities," said Shank (R-Washington County).

The Maryland Chiefs of Police Association held a rally against the bill.

Hagerstown, it's about public safety. We're worried about the driving high. We're worried about people on our roadways that are under the influence of drugs, in this case it would be marijuana," said Chief Mark Holtzman, with the Hagerstown Police Department.

"We're concerned about our youth in
Washington County and the fact that we will have, without a doubt, more youth using the drug," said Maj. Pete Lazich, with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.

The bill would tax marijuana at a six-percent rate and much of that money would go to education.

"Our projections are that we will make somewhere between $100 and $150 million in revenues on what will become a legitimate industry with real jobs," Raskin said.
A Goucher poll found 51 percent of people in Maryland are in favor of legalizing marijuana, with 40 percent opposed. You can read the bill by clicking here.

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