Maryland lawmakers say they'll introduce bill legalizing marijuana

(WJLA) - In Annapolis Thursday, Maryland Sen. Jamie Raskin and other lawmakers outlined their plans to propose taxing and regulating marijuana.

“We are wasting law enforcement resources that could be spend and should be spent on serious violent crimes and white collar crimes,” Raskin said.

It comes just one day after a District of Columbia City Council committee advanced legislation to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of pot. The bill now moves on to the full Council.

“The ultimate goal here is not to allow simple possession of marijuana to destroy someone’s life,” said Councilmember Mary Cheh, (D) Ward 3.

Just a few miles away in Prince George’s County, County Executive Rushern Baker told NewsChannel 8’s Whitney Wild that he is intrigued by the idea of decriminalizing pot.

“Certainly I support decriminalization,” Baker said. “You have a number of people with a small amount of marijuana and they have a criminal record at a time when we're trying to do something about our returning citizens.”

Baker says what happens in the District will have a major influence on bills in Maryland.

“I think decriminalization, and making sure we're not exacerbating our criminal problem,” Baker said.

Some residents say they’re split.

“I'm neutral on (decriminalization),” said Michael Connors, an Oxon Hill resident.

“I do not support but I may not oppose that,” Michael Connors, an Oxon Hill resident.

Keith Payne, who lives at National Harbor, says he doesn’t support legalizing or decriminalizing marijuana.

“I'm not really a fan of it,” he says. “There's a reason why it's banned now.”

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, there were more than 20,000 arrests for pot possession in Maryland in 2012.

As interest in decriminalizing and legalizing the drug grows, Baker says he’s watching closely.

“I think it's a wait and see with what happens in Colorado in taking it any further than that,” he said.

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