ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland's legislature has given final approval to a bill that would eliminate criminal charges for possessing small amounts of marijuana and the governor says he plants to sign it.
The Senate voted Monday to accept several compromises the House added over the weekend.
The bill would keep marijuana use illegal but make it akin to a traffic violation. The House opted to require all teen offenders to be evaluated for treatment. It also voted to raise the penalties to $20 for a second offense and $500 for a third offense, up from a maximum of $100.
Governor Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, said Monday he has changed his views on decriminalization. He says it reflects the public's will and could lead to greater focus on more serious threats to public safety.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - The House and Senate have reached a final agreement on plans to make medical marijuana more widely available.
Both chambers passed a bill Monday that creates 15 licenses for growers. A medical marijuana commission will be allowed to issue more licenses after two years, if it's necessary to meet demand.
The House had originally planned to allow just 10 growers, but senators said keeping the number too low could foster a monopoly. A conference committee reached this compromise last week.
The adjusted version would allow patients to obtain medical marijuana from dispensaries all over the state, and it would let growers sell the drug directly. Patients would need recommendations from specially licensed doctors.
Sen. Jamie Raskin said Monday he considers it the best medical marijuana legislation in the country.