Associated Press ,
The Maryland House of Delegates approved a bill today that would dramatically reduce penalties for Marylanders who use marijuana for medical reasons. The bill had bipartisan support and passed 73 to 62. The legislation would allow people charged with possession of small amounts of marijuana to present evidence that they have a medical condition that is helped by smoking marijuana. The maximum penalty for possession of marijuana for medical purposes would be a $100 fine. There would be no jail term. The bill now heads to the Senate.
Last year, similar legislation also passed the House but was killed in the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Some of the committee members who voted against it were not re-elected this fall. Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. supports the legalization of medical marijuana. "If we have a workable bill, we will sign it," he said today. Since 1970, marijuana has been a controlled dangerous substance under state and federal drug prohibitions. Simple possession or use of marijuana can bring penalties of up to a year in prison or a $1,000 fine.