This post was originally posted at The New Democrat on Blogger
This is a good first step. I would’ve voted for it, if I were a member of the Maryland Assembly, House or Senate. Both chambers of the Assembly have passed decriminalization of marijuana and, surprisingly, Governor Martin O’Malley announced late this Monday afternoon that he will sign the bill when it comes to his desk. Surprisingly, because previously in this Assembly session he had said that he was against decriminalization of marijuana.
I twice voted for O’Malley for governor and I’m proud I did so. I’m not implying that he doesn’t support this bill but, politically, if he wants to run a credible presidential campaign in 2016, he’s going to need to get to the Left of Hillary Clinton and appeal to young voters. Then, he can portray her as someone without a strong political core who is running on her name and just wants to be the first female President of the United States.
Favoring decriminalization of marijuana at the state level gives him that opening. He could say to young liberals (hopefully I still count as one, age wise) that the War on Drugs has failed and we need a new approach to dealing with narcotics. For starters, we stop arresting people for simple marijuana possession or use. I believe in this and Secretary Clinton is either a drug warrior she or won’t take a strong stance on the issue.
The bill, itself, is a strong first step but the country needs to go further and so does Maryland. Use and possession of small amounts of marijuana should be legal for everyone in the state who’s 21 and over and not currently incarcerated. This drug should be regulated like alcohol because they have similar side-effects and, if anything, marijuana is less dangerous. We should save our precious prison spaces for real-life criminals who are a threat to Marylanders and other Americans.