WE NEED YOUR HELP TO PASS HOUSE BILL 488
HB 0488: Use or Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance - De Minimis Quantity
Mass incarceration of non-violent drug users in Maryland wastes resources, ruins lives, and does nothing to reduce drug use. More than 40,000 arrests for non-violent drug crimes took place in Maryland in 2014, and 81% of drug arrests were for possession only. Maryland has approximately 4,000 prisoners incarcerated for drug crimes at any point in time, costing the corrections system $260 million. Collateral consequences of drug convictions include loss of child custody, voting rights, employment, business loans, licensing, student aid, public housing, and other public assistance, not to mention the self-defeat and stigma that can last a lifetime.
In 2016, we passed the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) to reduce Maryland’s prison population and reduce the likelihood of reoffending. This legislation is an extension of the JRA in that it changes a criminal offense into a graduated civil offense. The JRA works with people after arrest, prosecution, and incarceration; this bill will divert people into treatment before entry into the criminal justice system.
This bill does not change penalties for possession, distribution, or sale of larger amounts. The first time a person is caught with a very small personal amount of drugs, he/she will no longer be arrested, jailed, prosecuted, imprisoned, or saddled with a criminal record, but instead will be referred to treatment. A graduated civil offense applies to an individual who is caught twice with possession of drugs, and a person is moved to the criminal justice system on their third offense.
Empirical evidence demonstrates that decriminalization DOES NOT result in increased use or crime. IT DOES reduce incidences of HIV/AIDS and overdose; increases the number of people in treatment; and reduces social costs of drug use.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
1) Testify in Annapolis on 2/14 at 1:00 (In 3 minutes, give reasons why this bill should become law)
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Call to sign up to testify: 301-525-6183
2) Call and/or email elected officials on the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and ask them to vote favorably on House Bill 488 and Senate Bill 798. To identify Committee members, click on the link below or paste it into your URL, locate the committee and click on it, and then click on the "membership" drop down tab. Then click on "contact".