Colorado and Washington have legalized it, states like Massachusetts, California and Nevada have decriminalized it; but here in Maryland, marijuana remains banned as a medical marijuana commission begins to figure out how to supply the drug to patients.
However, public opinion towards marijuana is changing, according to a new poll.
An ACLU of Maryland poll released last week found that 53 percent of state residents support making marijuana legal for adults and regulating it like alcohol. Sixty-eight percent support removing criminal penalties for possession of less than an ounce (decriminalizing) and only 26 percent of residents polled were opposed to making any amount legal, according to the results.
"Our current marijuana prohibition policies are grossly ineffective," said Sara Love, public policy director for the Maryland ACLU, in a statement. "It's time to take a commonsense approach to public safety and criminal justice. We should not be wasting resources arresting people simply for possessing marijuana... A majority of voters agree it is time for a change."
Public Policy Polling polled 678 residents between Sept. 27 - 29 to gather opinions on the state's marijuana policy.
The Maryland state government has been slow to change marijuana policy in the state, compared to other states who have legalized, decriminalized or made it medically available in the past 10 years. Twenty states allow medical marijuana, 17 states have decriminalized the drug and two—Colorado and Washington—voted to legalize and regulate small amounts of marijuana last year.
Last month, Governor Martin O'Malley appointed 11 members to the Medical Marijuana Commission, which is tasked with setting up programs to make marijuana available at academic medical centers, according to the Washington Post.
The earliest those centers are expected to open is sometime in 2016, according to the Post.
Meanwhile, marijuana legalization activists point to the survey to say more needs to be done. "Most Maryland voters recognize that marijuana prohibition has failed and believe it is time to adopt a more sensible approach," said Rachelle Yeung, legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project. "By regulating marijuana like alcohol we can take marijuana sales out of the underground market and put them behind the counters of legitimate, tax-paying businesses. Marijuana is objectively less harmful than alcohol, and it is time to treat it that way."
Should the state legalize or decriminalize marijuana? Tell us in the comments.