Kudos to Maryland lawmakers and the governor for taking action to remove the criminal penalties associated with the personal possession by adults of small quantities of marijuana ("A step toward sanity on marijuana," April 14).
Adults who choose to consume cannabis should not face arrest, prosecution and the stigma of a criminal record for ingesting a substance that is, by any objective measure, safer than either alcohol or tobacco.
Similar legislation to decriminalize marijuana has already been enacted in 17 states, including Connecticut, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska and Ohio. In many cases, these laws have been successfully in place for decades.
Decriminalization there has not led to an increase in marijuana use among the public, but it has shielded many cannabis consumers from a criminal record and the lifelong penalties associated with it.
Only two other states currently have higher rates of arrests for marijuana possession than Maryland. The enactment of this policy will enable police, prosecutors and the courts to reallocate resources to activities that better serve the public, like targeting violent crime. It will also mitigate the disproportionate impact of marijuana law enforcement on communities of color.
Paul Armentano, Washington, D.C.
The writer is deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
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