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Gubernatorial Candidate Mizeur Proposes Marijuana Legalization In Md.

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- A candidate for governor wants to legalize the recreational use of marijuana and she's drawing passionate reaction.

Mike Hellgren has the details of the controversial plan.

It comes from Democratic candidate Heather Mizeur and would highly regulate the use of pot. She says it's time to decriminalize it and she's making more than just political waves.

For the first time, a major party candidate for Maryland governor wants to open the door to legalized recreational marijuana use.

"We will take the underground market that exists for everyone trying to access this substance and bring it to the light of day," Mizeur said.

Mizeur says it would only be for those over 21, illegal to smoke in public and she wants to tax it $50 an ounce, bringing in as much as $157 million a year for education.

"Drug dealers on the streets are still selling marijuana to children. They're not asking for an ID," she said.

But critics like former addict and counselor Mike Gimbel call the controversial proposal dangerous.

"It is totally backwards, irresponsible, stupid and it's going to hurt people and nobody really seems to care," he said.

A poll last month showed 51 percent of Marylanders support legalization and 40 percent oppose it.

"I know lots of people smoke. That's a lot of money going to the state," said one.

"For me, it's just putting temptation in the way of young people to have it legalized," said another.

"They're throwing people in jail for little amounts and ruining lives over little amounts of marijuana that's legalized in other places," said a third.

Maryland is surrounded by jurisdictions that have legalized medical marijuana like D.C. and Delaware, and states considering doing so, like Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Past attempts for less strict laws have largely failed here and none of Delegate Mizeur's opponents--Democratic or Republican--support it.

"Marijuana is a safer substance than even alcohol or tobacco," Mizeur said.

"It's going to be easier to smoke pot than it's going to be to smoke cigarettes," Gimbel said.

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