HB 325 will be heard in the House and Government Operations Committee this Tuesday, January 30, at 1:00. It is a bill that seeks to make the possession of small amounts of controlled dangerous substance a medical problem, rather than a justice problem. This is the third year that this bill has been introduced. It will not pass without your help!
If you are able to testify in support of this bill in Annapolis on Tuesday, please call or email me. Oral testimony will be limited to 3 minutes, and written testimony of any length must be submitted two hours before the bill hearing.
Let's work together to get our children, our brothers and sisters, our parents and our friends out of jail and into treatment! PLEASE FORWARD.
HB325 / SB446: Use or Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance – De Minimis Quantity (Addiction is a HealthCare Issue –Not a Crime!)
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 Marylanders passed the Justice Reinvestment Act (JRA) to reduce our state’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.
Maryland must lower penalties for possession of small amounts of drugs and ensure that high-quality treatment and recovery resources are available and accessible.
- 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
- Evidence demonstrates that decriminalization does not result in increased use or crime; reduces incidences of HIV/AIDS and overdose; increases the number of people in treatment; and reduces social costs of drug use.