Introduced by Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City) and 30 co-sponsors, House Bill 911, the Marijuana Control and Revenue Act of 2015; and companion bill, Senate Bill 531, introduced by Sen. Jamie Raskin D-Montgomery County) with nine co-sponsors Could legalize cannabis for adults. If the proposed legislation passes, adults 21 years of age and older would be permitted to possess up to one ounce of marihuana and grow up to six plants in their home.
The Maryland Comptroller would be required to establish the rules and regulations for cultivation, manufacturing, retail, and safety compliance, setting the framework for legal cannabis within the state. An oversight commission will also be established to monitor the cannabis industry and advise the comptroller on regulatory issues. Grow facilities and retail locations will not be permitted to operate within 1000 feet of a school. Other regulations may be enforced based on local decision. Public use of cannabis, and driving under the influence of marijuana would remain illegal under this legislation.
House Bill 911 is scheduled for hearing before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 24th, at 1:00 pm. Senate Bill 531 Is scheduled for hearing before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee on Wednesday. March 4th, at 1:00 pm.
Last year Maryland voted to decriminalize cannabis possession up to ten grams, as well as passing medical marihuana legalization. These moves come at an important time as we are seeing a federal case in the Sacremento Division of the United States District Courts unfold.
Judge Kimberly J. Mueller of the Sacramento Division of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California recently made some comments in court that signal her preparation to declare the schedule 1 narcotic classification of cannabis unconstitutional.
In a hearing on Wednesday, February 13th, Judge Mueller indicated that she is seriously considering the merits of the defense’s position and stated to prosecutors, “If I were persuaded by the defense’s argument, if I bought their argument, what would you lose here?”
Assistant US Attorney Gregory Broderick, a prosecutor in this case, had argued that Congress, rather than a judge, should determine whether marijuana belongs classified in Schedule 1. He did however stopped short of arguing that it does, “We’re not saying that this is the most dangerous drug in the world. All we’re saying is that the evidence is such that reasonable people could disagree.” Broderick cited the men’s status as firearms owners as evidence that their marijuana grow operation was not for medical use, although many business owners purchase firearms to protect their merchandise. He said, “They had weapons. These guys were not producing medicine.”
Broderick was to admit in comments cited by The Leaf Online, “If Congress heard all the testimony you have heard in this hearing, they may very well decide not to put marijuana in Schedule I.” However, he stood firm in his argument that Judge Mueller lacked the authority to rule on the issue, stating it should fall in the hands of Congress instead.
The Leaf Online‘s Jeremy Daw wrote, “Judge Mueller, who has already scheduled nearly a week of court time to the hearing, did not give any indication of sympathy to [Broderick's] position,” noting that she did appear to give some pause to the notion that “Broderick’s argument that even if she could properly hear the case, the ultimate outcome is irrelevant” had “more credence.”
Judge Mueller informed that she would consider the motion to drop the charges and issue a written ruling within 30 days.