Montgomery County Council Urges State to Decriminalize Possession of Marijuana Paraphernalia

July 8, 2014



Meredith Curtis, ACLU of Maryland



Morgan Fox, Marijuana Policy Project



ROCKVILLE, Md. - The Montgomery County Council unanimously adopted a resolution Tuesday that urges the Maryland General Assembly and governor to decriminalize possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Montgomery is the state's most populated county.


Specifically, the resolution urges them to "make adult paraphernalia possession a civil offense, no more serious than adult possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana." In April, the General Assembly adopted a bill decriminalizing possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, and Gov. Martin O'Malley signed it into law.


The council resolution also expresses the opinion that "possession of small amounts of marijuana and paraphernalia by adults should be among the County's lowest law enforcement priorities."


Statement from Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a 34-year veteran of the Maryland State Police:


"Good cops don't want to waste their time arresting adults for marijuana possession. They want to focus on serious threats to our community. Each marijuana arrest takes up time and resources that could be used to keep our neighborhoods safe."


Statement from Rev. Dr. S. Todd Yeary, Political Action Chair of the Maryland State Conference NAACP:


"From the very genesis of the war on drugs in the U.S., marijuana prohibition laws have had a disproportionate and harmful impact on poor communities and communities of color. The Montgomery County Council has demonstrated prudence in insuring that the unintended consequences of marijuana paraphernalia possession are addressed in a fair and responsible manner. The Maryland State Conference NAACP is hopeful that the General Assembly will see this decision as a model for its legislative agenda in the next session."


Statement from Toni Holness, public policy associate for the ACLU of Maryland:


"De-prioritizing low-level marijuana offenses is a sensible law enforcement strategy that is gaining momentum. It could also help alleviate a serious racial disparity in Montgomery County, where blacks are 3.2 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites despite comparable rates of use."

Statement from Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project:


"Adults should not face life-altering criminal penalties for possessing a less harmful substance than alcohol. We hope county law enforcement officials will agree there are more pressing matters to address."


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The Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland includes the ACLU of Maryland, CASA de Maryland, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, Demand Progress, Equality Maryland, Job Opportunities Task Force, International Women's Cannabis Coalition-Maryland Chapter, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, League of Women Voters of Maryland, Libertarian Party of Maryland, Maryland Green Party, Marijuana Policy Project, Maryland Justice Project, Maryland NORML, Maryland United for Peace and Justice, Medical Cannabis Advocates of Maryland, Maryland State Conference of NAACP Branches, Maryland State Conference, Montgomery County Civil Rights Coalition, Montgomery County Young Democrats, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Union Local 400, and Veterans for Peace, Phil Berrigan Memorial Chapter.


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