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Howard police prep for marijuana law changes

A new set of law changes went into effect Wednesday, the most prominent being the decriminalization of marijuana.

Starting Oct. 1, people caught with less than 10 grams of marijuana will be cited for a civil offense, not a criminal one. The offense can result in a $100 ticket, and repeat offenders can receive increased fines.

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Howard County police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said the department will not change the way officers investigate marijuana cases.

"Officers will continue to operate as they currently do when responding to, investigating, arresting and conducting searches related to possession of marijuana," she said. "Upon conclusion of an investigation at a scene, if it is determined that the subject is in possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, a civil citation will be issued and the subject released without criminal prosecution."

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The bill, passed this year in the General Assembly, was co-sponsored by Howard County State Senator Allan Kittleman, a Republican. Kittleman is also the Republican nominee in the county executive's race.

Other changes include increased protections for transgender people who are discriminated against, an increased penalty for people guilty of committing domestic violence in front of a child and a law that says drivers must be one open lane away from tow truck operators assisting roadside emergencies.

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