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A look at the legalization of marijuana throughout the U.S.

A few weeks ago during the elections, nine states had votes to extend marijuana use, whether for medicinal or recreational use, including Maryland, which voted to legalize medicinal marijuana use. What does this mean for Maryland residents?

In 2014, laws were passed that decriminalized marijuana possession for small amounts. For possession of less than 10 grams, a person would be fined $100 for a first offense, $250 for a second offense and up to $500 for offenses of three or more. In addition, those caught three or more times are subjected to a required drug education program and a clinical assessment. But, such offenses will not leave you with a criminal record.

It is important to note that despite numerous states enacting marijuana legalization for either recreational or medicinal purposes, it is still illegal to possess marijuana on a federal level. And, federal laws always take preference over state or local laws. Thus far, it seems that the federal government has done very limited enforcement of such laws.

As of now, the laws in Maryland have not changed, though they may soon. Traction for medicinal marijuana use has increased over the last few years, and it appears inevitable by some that in the near future recreational use may be legal throughout all or most of the United States. Until then, however, it is important to understand the laws. If you have been arrested on marijuana drug charges, knowing the laws and crafting a strong defense strategy could make the difference between significant fines and possible treatment programs, and having the charges dropped or a not guilty verdict.

Source: Fox Business, "4 States That Could Legalize Recreational Marijuana Next," Nov. 26, 2016

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