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Readers Respond

Mizeur deserves credit for decriminalization [Letter]

We, members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland, write in response to the editorial, "Spin control," that appeared on May 8. Our coalition is non-partisan and does not endorse candidates. We take no position on the Maryland gubernatorial race. The purpose of this letter is to set the record straight.

Our coalition promotes honest, fact-based dialogue regarding marijuana use and the impact of its criminalization and advocates for the safe, effective, efficient regulation and taxation of the sale of marijuana in Maryland for adults. As part of our advocacy, members of our coalition were intensively involved in the marijuana policy reform bills, including the last-minute resurrection of Sen. Bobby Zirkin's bill to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The May 8 editorial dismissed Del. Heather Mizeur's role in the passage of marijuana decriminalization. The facts of Delegate Mizeur's role in the marijuana decriminalization effort are as follows: Delegate Mizeur collected an impressive number of cosponsors for her own decriminalization bill, a bill that went even further than the legislation that passed. This was accomplished through important one-on-one conversations with many of her colleagues. Del. Mizeur also enlisted a strong Republican co-lead sponsor, Del. Michael Smigiel, to carry the bill with her. Del. Mizeur promoted the issue of marijuana policy reform in the court of public opinion through press conferences, press releases and social media as well as by organizing and holding a rally for decriminalization in front of the State House. She testified at the hearing and was an integral player in a core group of legislators and activists working to resurrect the bill after it was gutted by the House Judiciary Committee, helping to whip votes and stepping aside when it seemed more appropriate for others to lead so as to not allow politics to get in the way of policy.

The Marijuana Policy Coalition credits the passage of decriminalization to a number of dogged advocates in the General Assembly, and we place Del. Mizeur on a short list of those who worked the hardest for this critical policy reform.

Sara Love, Bethesda; Dan Furmansky, Silver Spring; Rachelle Yeung, Washington, D.C.; and Neill Franklin, White Hall

The writers are members of the Marijuana Policy Coalition of Maryland.

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