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Lawmakers send bill decriminalizing pot paraphernalia to governor

As far as marijuana is concerned, lawmakers in Maryland have recently adopted what could easily be classified as a progressive approach, meaning they have come to embrace the idea that prosecution and incarceration aren't the only viable solutions.

In support of this notion, you needn't look any further than the law that went into last year decriminalizing possession of less than ten grams of marijuana, essentially reclassifying it as a purely civil offense. 

As progressive as this measure was, it left at least one glaring ambiguity concerning paraphernalia.

Specifically, while a person found with less than ten grams of marijuana faced only a civil offense, they could still face criminal charges if they were found to be in possession of marijuana  paraphernalia such as pipes or other smoking devices.

In recent developments, however, the General Assembly has decided to officially close this loophole.

A measure removing marijuana smoking devices from the state's law covering possession of drug paraphernalia, previously approved by the Senate, passed by a vote of 84-52 in the House of Delegates this past weekend.   

"We made the possession of marijuana a civil offense, but the hardware used with it is still criminal, so you had this disjointed law that didn't make any sense," said Sen. Bobby Zirkin (D-Baltimore City), the sponsor of the measure.

The measure now heads to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan who has not expressed any support or opposition to the measure.  

It should be noted that the move to decriminalize paraphernalia wasn't the only pot-related item in Zirkin's bill, as it also established a new civil offense of smoking marijuana in public that is punishable by a fine of up to $500.

What are your thoughts on the paraphernalia bill? Do you think it makes sense in light of last year's decriminalization measure or do you think the General Assembly is going too far?

If you've been charged with any sort of drug crime -- possession, trafficking, manufacturing -- involving any sort of drug -- marijuana, cocaine, heroin -- consider speaking with an experienced legal professional as soon as possible to learn more about protecting your rights and your freedom.

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