Editorial

EDITORIAL: State Marijuana Laws Need Consistency

Marijuana law in this region is just confusing enough to get you in trouble. Indeed, there are certain states in which lawmakers have seen fit to revise drug laws to allow pot consumption for recreational users.  While that’s OK along the Pacific coast states of Washington and Oregon or beyond the continental divide in Colorado, that’s a little far-flung from D.C., Maryland and Virginia.

In the DMV sorting out a snarl of rules will drive you, well, to drink. In Maryland, if you are caught with 10 grams or less, the penalty is a small, parking-ticket level fine. Holding between 10 grams and 50 pounds? That’s a misdemeanor.  But if there’s more than 50 pounds of the stuff in your possession, Maryland law eyes you as a distributor. D.C. law is more forgiving. If you’re over 21 years old, two ounces is legal without fine or prosecution. Even giving an ounce or less only risks a $25 fine.  And in Virginia, where the governor crowed about decriminalizing pot a few months ago, possession of half a gram or less can still result in a hefty fine or even, under certain circumstances, jail time–especially if you don’t have a medical marijuana license.

Medical researchers now assure us that pot is not as harmful as believed earlier when it carried the label of a gateway drug to much more addictive and harmful substances. What’s more, the benefits of cannabis in pain management for multiple sclerosis, glaucoma and other neurological disorders are well-documented. And pot draws praise for easing the misery of chemotherapy.

Pot laws are needlessly inconsistent, resulting in the view that a reasoned stand on marijuana depends on where you sit. The public policy view on pot needs more thinking.

 

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