Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee hears marijuana bill

Posted at 4:58 PM, Mar 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-02 17:46:16-05

The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee held a hearing on a bill that would regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol.

SB 928 is sponsored by Senator Richard Madaleno Jr. (D-Montgomery). It would make possession and home cultivation of certain amounts of cannabis legal for adults ages 21+. Driving under the influence of marijuana would still be illegal. People who have prior convictions for possessing or growing certain amounts would have those records expunged.

Advocates and opponents showed up to voice their opinions on the bills. 

"You have a product that a lot of people want, and yet they don't have any safe regulated business to purchase it from," said Kate Bell, a member of the Marijuana Policy Project. "So they are forced into the criminal market which is potentially dangerous, both because of the violence that comes along with it as well as not knowing the potency of the product, not knowing what dangerous pesticides that were used to grow it."

RELATED: Poll: public support for legalizing marijuana grows

Others feel recreational pot in Maryland would make highways even more dangerous. AAA Mid-Atlantic shared their position on the bills as well.

"Conservatively, marijuana on its own at least doubles your odds of causing a traffic crash and about 2/3 of people who drive with having recently using marijuana also use alcohol," said Jacob Nelson, Director of Traffic Safety & Research for AAA. "Mixing those two drugs together creates a synergistic effect of impairment for the person operating the motor vehicle."

RELATED: Sheriff: 78% of overdose victims says they used marijuana at a young age

Maryland lawmakers voted to decriminalize marijuana use in 2014, making possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana a civil offense.

The Trump administration has compared the use of marijuana to the opioid epidemic in some states, including Maryland.

RELATED: Cannabis industry braces for stronger drug enforcement under Trump