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Published on March 13th, 2014 | by Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

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Marylanders support decriminalizing marijuana, but split on full legalization, poll finds

By Margaret Sessa-Hawkins

Margaret@MarylandReporter.com

Marijuana plant    Maryland residents are split on whether or not to support the legalization of marijuana, but do support decriminalizing marijuana, a Goucher poll released Wednesday finds.

    The poll, which interviewed 861 residents last week, comes just as multiple bills on the legal status of marijuana are being considered by the legislature. Almost 46% of those surveyed in the poll admitted to having tried marijuana themselves at some point in their lives.

    The overall number of people who both oppose and favor marijuana legalization remained largely unchanged since a similar poll was conducted in October. Half of Maryland residents polled (50%) indicated they would support the legalization of marijuana, while only 39% were opposed to legalization.

    The portion of respondents who described themselves as “strongly opposed” as versus just “opposed” increased by 5%. The poll has a margin of error of plus/minus 3.3%.

    Two bills which deal with the topic of marijuana legalization are currently being considered by the legislature. SB658 was heard in committee at the end of February, while HB880 will have a hearing Thursday.

Broader support to make marijuana possession a civil offense

Support for decriminalization of marijuana was much broader than support for legalization. When asked to compare marijuana and alcohol use, 57% thought the regulations placed on marijuana should be roughly equal to those placed on alcohol.

In terms of specific punishments for those caught with a small amount of marijuana in their possession, 45% of those polled supported fines, while 36% supported rehabilitation. Only 7% of respondents thought jail time was an appropriate penalty.

 A bill aiming to decriminalize marijuana, SB364, got preliminary approval in the Senate Wednesday.

The poll also found that support for legal medical marijuana was an overwhelming 90%.

    “It appears that residents support the decriminalization of marijuana and have doubts that the use of marijuana is a gateway to hard drug use,” said Mileah Kromer, director of the Sarah T. Hughes Field Politics Center at Goucher, which conducted the poll. She added that residents are “divided over whether to legalize it for recreational use.”

Support for paid sick leave, raising minimum wage, and transgender tolerance

    In exploring other high-profile political issues, the poll found that 80% of residents are in support of requiring Maryland businesses to provide paid sick leave for their employees, and 73% are in support of raising the minimum wage to $10 an hour.

    HB527, which requires employers to provide sick leave, was heard in committee mid-February, while HB295, which would raise the state’s minimum wage, passed in the House 89-46 last Friday.

The poll indicates that 71% of Maryland residents also support measures to protect against discrimination on the basis of gender identity, such as those in SB212, which passed the Senate, 32-15, March 5.

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  • Brian Kelly B Bizzle

    Decriminalizing still allows people to get caught up in the criminal justice system because they are still FORCED to the dangerous black market street drug dealers to get marijuana and probably still forces citizens into FORCED rehab. No thanks!

    Let’s instead generate hundreds of millions in tax dollars that will improve our schools, roads, and drug prevention programs instead.

    Also, we will still be wasting our tax dollars sending police around to ticket marijuana users and wasting police manpower and resources.

    Instead of allowing our police the time, manpower and resources to protect us all from real, dangerous criminals who actually commit crimes with victims and pose a real threat to society.

    “In Colorado, Marijuana Legalization leads to $100 Million in Revenue

    “Colorado is anticipating $100 million in cannabis tax revenue. Within the first month of retail sales, businesses reported $1.24 million in tax revenue alone, and lines in front of dispensaries were out the door all over the state.”

    http://www.travelerstoday.com/articles/8785/20140214/in-colorado-marijuana-legalization-leads-to-100-million-in-revenue.htm

    Legalize Nationwide!

    The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is much safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

  • Brian Kelly B Bizzle

    Decriminalizing still allows people to get caught up in the criminal justice system because they are still FORCED to the dangerous black market street drug dealers to get marijuana and probably still forces citizens into FORCED rehab. No thanks!

    Let’s instead generate hundreds of millions in tax dollars that will improve our schools, roads, and drug prevention programs instead.

    Also, we will still be wasting our tax dollars sending police around to ticket marijuana users and wasting police manpower and resources.

    Instead of allowing our police the time, manpower and resources to protect us all from real, dangerous criminals who actually commit crimes with victims and pose a real threat to society.

    “In Colorado, Marijuana Legalization leads to $100 Million in Revenue

    “Colorado is anticipating $100 million in cannabis tax revenue. Within the first month of retail sales, businesses reported $1.24 million in tax revenue alone, and lines in front of dispensaries were out the door all over the state.”

    http://www.travelerstoday.com/articles/8785/20140214/in-colorado-marijuana-legalization-leads-to-100-million-in-revenue.htm

    Legalize Nationwide!

    The “War on Marijuana” has been a complete and utter failure. It is the largest component of the broader yet equally unsuccessful “War on Drugs” that has cost our country over a trillion dollars.

    Instead of The United States wasting Billions upon Billions more of our tax dollars fighting a never ending “War on Marijuana”, lets generate Billions of dollars, and improve the deficit instead. It’s a no brainer.

    The Prohibition of Marijuana has also ruined the lives of many of our loved ones. In numbers greater than any other nation, our loved ones are being sent to jail and are being given permanent criminal records which ruin their chances of employment for the rest of their lives, and for what reason?

    Marijuana is much safer, and healthier to consume than alcohol. Yet do we lock people up for choosing to drink?

    Let’s end this hypocrisy now!

    The government should never attempt to legislate morality by creating victim-less “crimes” because it simply does not work and costs the taxpayers a fortune.

    Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide! Support Each and Every Marijuana Legalization Initiative!

  • Todd

    People who think that cannabis is a “gateway drug” aren’t looking at the statistics on overall drug use. A survey in 2009 showed that 16.7 million Americans, which it’s probably higher, used marijuana. In 2011 a survey showed that about 4.2 million Americans have tried heroin at least once, while about 23% of those became dependent on the drug. In 2008 there were about 1.9 million cocaine users, and about 359,000 crack smokers. The fact is that the majority of marijuana users do NOT move to harder drugs. Statistics don’t match the bogus claim. If cannabis was wiped off the face of the earth, people would still do harder drugs. Alcohol is by far worse than weed, and may be the most harmful and addictive drug in the world. Two out of three adults drink alcohol, while alcoholics or problem drinkers make up 15% of the American people. You can’t go a day or two without hearing about an automobile accident that was contributed to a drunk. So if you believe that Marijuana is a problem or the “gateway” to worse things, you are too stupid to research the facts.

  • Todd

    At least, as this article states, most residents don’t believe the “gateway” nonsense. On the other hand, our Governor, and some others in the Senate and House of Delegates are opposing full out legalization, and they are using this bogus lie. Cannabis should never have been made illegal in the first place, and they are too blind to see that. They should research the reasons why it was, and if they have, and still think it should remain illegal, they are idiots. Decriminalization is a start, but isn’t not enough. Our country needs to right the wrongs and injustices of the past. I do believe, and strongly hope it will happen, but it’s taking way too long.

  • abby_adams

    So how much leeway to we give to decriminalization? Only one bite at the apple or can one become a repeat offender? It’s pretty sick where the state dictates that one who smokes a legal product is shamed, castigated & harrassed yet a majority thinks smoking dope for fun is okey-dokey?

  • Dale McNamee

    From the latest Maryland Reporter State Roundup of March 13th. : ” POT DECRIMINALIZATION: The Maryland Senate gave preliminary approval on Wednesday to a bill that would decriminalize marijuana, reports Alex Jackson in the Annapolis Capital. After adopting several amendments to the bill, the Senate sent Bill 364 to a final vote. The bill would decriminalize pot by making possession of up to 10 grams a civil offense, punishable by up to a $100 fine.
    The state Senate did approve two amendments from Sen. Christopher Shank to the marijuana decriminalization bill, writes Kaustuv Basu for the Hagerstown Herald Mail. One would let judges order treatment for frequent pot users. The second would allow the state to use revenue from a civil penalty to fund drug programs.

    So frequent pot use raises the need for the frequent user to be ordered by a judge to get treatment…
    Harmless ? Alcohol is worse ?
    Who do you pot legalization supporters think you are fooling ? Why, the moronic Maryland voters of course !
    I worked at a company where I seemed to be the only sober one there…Everybody else was “toked up” and used alcohol and drugs like “speed” and tripped on LSD as well, all on company time.
    So, don’t say that it can’t lead to using harder drugs to get a greater “high”… I’ll stack my experience against your fantasies any day…
    I believe that drug usage should disqualify one from voting… Maryland can’t stand any more stupidity,especially self-caused stupidity…
    As for the “medical marijuana” claim… I have a couple of questions :
    How does drawing hot smoke and holding in one’s lungs to “deliver medicine” promote health ? The lungs aren’t designed for that…
    And, if one couldn’t get high, would one smoke it ?

    • Todd

      Alcohol is far worse, and it’s also a drug. Do you believe that 2 out of 3 Americans shouldn’t be allowed to vote? That is how many drink alcohol. You don’t have to “smoke” weed to get the medicinal effects either, and yes, there are people that need cannabis that is high in CBD and low in THC, depending on what condition they have. SInce I’m sure you don’t understand what that means, I’ll tell you. It means that the user won’t get high, but the CBD with help their condition. It’s also not proven that smoking it will cause lung cancer. It sounds like you haven’t done any research on this at all. Yes, there are people that do use weed along with all sorts of drugs, but that doesn’t make weed the “gateway” to these other drugs. Those people would do all these things regardless of weed. I know someone right now that is only 29, and she is in the hospital dying because of alcohol abuse. See has destroyed her body, and that is from drinking 1 to 3 pints vodka a day for the last 4 or 5 years. That is a relatively short amount of time. It is impossible to do that kind of damage to your body from using marijuana. Thousands of people die every year from alcohol abuse. So do you really need to put “Alcohol is worse?” in your biased, unresearched post? Anyone with any sense at all knows that alcohol is far worse than weed. It’s a proven fact, not an opinion. Yet, over half the American people consume alcohol, and 15% are drunks. If you don’t think the marijuana has medicinal effects, than you are an idiot. It’s also a proven fact, not an opinion. Use that internet access to type in medicinal effects of marijuana, and see how many things come up. And, don’t give me that “yeah, if it’s on the internet, it must be true”, bullshit either.This is from countless, legitimate sources.

  • Todd

    I agree with you 100%, but if you live in Maryland, and use weed, wouldn’t you rather know that if you get caught with it, you with only be given a ticket, instead of being arrested, having your car impounded, getting a criminal record, and possibly go to jail for 90 days? I’ll take decriminalization over how the law stands at this point. Yes, I’m waiting on complete legalization too, and think that it will eventually happen, but for now, if decriminalizing is all we can get, I’ll take that over the current laws against it. I support legalization 100%!!

  • Stephen Daniel

    The title is misleading on this article. According to the title, “Marylanders were split on full legalization”. Most polls find a majority of Maryland wants legalized marijuana. It does not matter if 100% of Maryland wants it legalized, even including the old farts who do not read anything except propaganda. This is not a democracy. Marylanders have wanted medical marijuana since the 1980s. That poll today is a strong majority, 80% plus. Do we have a medical marijuana program where sick people do not have to go to the street to buy their contaminated medicine from nasty drug dealers? It is not about what the people need or want. It is not about saving lives or helping sick people survive and get their lives back. It is about our politicians working for special interest groups.

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