ANNAPOLIS, MD. 22 May, 2015 – Maryland Governor Larry Hogan (R) seized the opportunity on Friday to veto a bill which would have closed a loophole in the state’s 2014 decriminalization law.
When the state decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis, possession of bongs and other cannabis paraphernalia was not included. The new bill, SB 517, to correct the inconsistency, was approved by massive majorities in both the state Senate and House of Delegates.
A majority of Maryland voters support legalization of cannabis (52 percent in a Goucher poll in February). and extend decriminalization to cannabis paraphernalia
However Gov. Hogan wrote in his veto letter to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller said that the bill would cause a “serious threat to public safety” by eliminating criminal sanctions for the use of marijuana while operating a motor vehicle. “If Senate Bill 517 becomes law,” the letter contended, “state and local law enforcement would be left with no authority to make a traffic stop if they see someone smoking marijuana while driving.”
Supporters of the bill rejected this claim, pointing out that it remains illegal to consume marijuana in public in Maryland or while driving. The police will retain the ability to stop any driver they believe to be engaging in such activity.