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Bill Would Regulate & Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol In Maryland

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ)—Maryland lawmakers consider a bill to legalize marijuana for sale to adults 21 and older. It's the latest in a series of proposals over the controversial drug.

Pat Warren has more on the pros and cons.

Up to now, it's been mostly a medical issue in Annapolis, but momentum is growing in the areas of public safety, civil liberty and money for the state.

That first legal toke in Colorado fires debate in Maryland over whether it is good public policy to legalize marijuana.

Supporters include members of law enforcement.

"Sixty percent of the profits made by drug dealers out there today come from marijuana sales," said Neill Franklin, law enforcement against prohibition.

The ACLU calls it a racial justice issue.

"In Baltimore City, African-Americans are 68 percent of the city. They are 92 percent of all arrests," said Sara Love, Maryland ACLU.

Some members of the General Assembly see it as common dollars and sense.

"We say let's have the government regulate it, tax it. We can raise more than $100 million a year. We'll stop wasting law enforcement resources," said Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) Montgomery County.

But despite this joint effort to legalize marijuana in Maryland, the outcome this year is dubious.

"You have to understand the lay of the land. Governor O'Malley's against it, Speaker Busch is against it," said Mike Miller, Senate President.

But polls show a majority of people, like John Burchett Jr., are OK with it.

"I think so. I think it would cut down on crime too. A lot," Burchett said.

Still there's very vocal opposition.

"Absolutely not. I mean most people who get on stronger drugs start with pot, don't they?" said Rose Anne, against legalization.

For others, it's not an issue.

"For me personally I would be against it, but for other people, they may feel differently, so I'm not one to judge," said Corey Lewis.

The bill is being introduced in the House.

Maryland still hasn't been able to provide medical marijuana, although a law was passed allowing it.

The latest bill is sponsored by Baltimore City Del. Curt Anderson.

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