Senate committee approves bill for civil fine for marijuana possession in Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A bill that would replace criminal penalties with a civil fine for possession of limited amounts of marijuana made its way through a state Senate committee vote Friday in Annapolis.

The Maryland Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee approved a bill 8-3 and it will move on to the full Senate for a vote. The bill, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore County) and Sen. Allan Kittleman (R-Howard County), would replace criminal penalties for possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana with a $100 fine.

 It would also make penalties for minors the same as those for underage possession of alcohol. Under current Maryland law, possession of small amounts of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $500.

 Supporters of the measure said 68 percent of Marylanders support such a change in policy as the state had the fourth highest arrest rate in the nation for marijuana possession, according to a report released in June by the American Civil Liberties Union. 

This bill is just one moving through Annapolis that would seek to de-criminalize or legalize marijuana use. 

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