Pubdate: Thu, 17 Apr 2014
Source: Baltimore Sun (MD)
Copyright: 2014 The Baltimore Sun Company
Author: Paul Armentano
Page: 16


Kudos to Maryland lawmakers and the governor for taking action to
remove the criminal penalties associated with the personal possession
by adults of small quantities of marijuana ("A step toward sanity on
marijuana," April 14).

Adults who choose to consume cannabis should not face arrest,
prosecution and the stigma of a criminal record for ingesting a
substance that is, by any objective measure, safer than either alcohol
or tobacco.

Similar legislation to decriminalize marijuana has already been
enacted in 17 states, including Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi,
Nebraska and Ohio. In many cases, these laws have been successfully in
place for decades.

Decriminalization there has not led to an increase in marijuana use
among the public, but it has shielded many cannabis consumers from a
criminal record and the lifelong penalties associated with it.

Only two other states currently have higher rates of arrests for
marijuana possession than Maryland. The enactment of this policy will
enable police, prosecutors and the courts to reallocate resources to
activities that better serve the public, like targeting violent crime.
It will also mitigate the disproportionate impact of marijuana law
enforcement on communities of color.

Paul Armentano, Washington, D.C. The writer is deputy director of the
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
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