February 27, 2013
CONTACT: Meredith Curtis, Communications Director, 410-889-8555; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sara Love, Public Policy Director, 703-963-2710; email@example.com
ANNAPOLIS - On February 27, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Maryland will testify to the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee in support of Senate Bill 394, which makes the use or possession marijuana a civil offense, punishable by a fine not exceeding $100, rather than imprisonment.
Maryland taxpayers spend over $1.1 billion per year to maintain a bloated prison system, which has tripled in size since 1980. And even though surveys suggest that whites and African-Americans have similar rates of drug use and drug distribution, the vast majority of those incarcerated for drug offenses are African-American. The Justice Policy Institute found that in 2003, African Americans represented 28 percent of Maryland's population, but accounted for 68 percent of all drug arrests, and 90 percent of all those imprisoned in the state for a drug offense.
Maryland also has one of the highest rates of arrests for marijuana possession in the country and some of the severest penalties in the nation. In 2007, Maryland had the fourth highest number of arrests for marijuana offenses in the nation, with marijuana possession accounting for 89% of all the arrests.
Statement of Sara Love, Public Policy Director, ACLU of Maryland: "Maryland's overly punitive and racially imbalanced approach to marijuana possession simply doesn't work and wastes money. There is an opportunity to build on last year's reforms and reduce our overpopulated prisons by making the use or possession of a small amount of marijuana a civil offense, rather than a criminal offense."
WHAT: Hearing on SB 394 - Possession of Marijuana - Maximum Penalties.
WHO: Sara Love, Public Policy Director, ACLU of Maryland. Sara Love will be available for media interviews.
WHEN: Tuesday, February 27, 2013; hearing begins at 1 PM.
WHERE: Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, Miller Senate Office Building, 11 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD.