Many states and cities in the US have been working toward marijuana decriminalization recently, and Maryland is now taking part in the movement.
Montgomery County Police are changing their tactics following the passage of two new laws in the state. Now, small amounts of marijuana will still be considered a crime, but it will be a less serious offense than it currently is, according to officials.
The decriminalization measures have been put into place to combat a constantly growing backlog of marijuana possession-related cases.
Deputy commander of the Montgomery County’s police department’s Special Investigators Division, Lt. Stephen D’Ovidio, has stated that, “[Marijuana] is still the most prevalent and widely available illegal drug in Montgomery County by far, and we’re going to keep targeting it as such until the law is changed. We’re going after the dealers and suppliers; we’re not targeting the users.”
The two new laws will go into effect in the state in the coming months. They will make minor marijuana possession punishable by a citation rather than a prison sentence.
Over the last few years, marijuana related arrests have made up up to 74% of all drug possession arrests in Montgomery County. Many of those charged request trial by jury, which bogs down the court system.