Maryland Senate passes marijuana bill

The Maryland Senate has voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. The Senate voted 30-16 to pass Senate Bill 297. The bill now heads to the House.

Some Maryland lawmakers want to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana to save the state money, while others want to legalize limited amounts of the drug for private possession.

State Senators voted Tuesday on a measure that would eliminate jail time for possessing less than 10 grams of marijuana.

If passed, those caught with small amounts of marijuana would face a $100 fine.

Supporters say the measure would save the state money by relieving the strain such crimes put on the criminal justice system.

Opponents worry that decriminalization could increase drug use among youth.

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee is also scheduled to hold a hearing on a measure to legalize limited amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and older.

The bill must gain approval by the conclusion of the General Assembly's 90-day session on April 8.

Information for this story was taken from The Capital Gazette, The Associated Press and The Baltimore Sun.