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Del. Curt Anderson on Thursday introduced a bill that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Maryland, mirroring measures passed by referendum last year in Colorado and Washington.

The bill would allow Marylanders 21 and older to possess one ounce or less of marijuana, and to grow three or fewer plants in their homes. An excise tax of $50 per ounce would be collected by the state under the proposal.

Plants grown at home would be required to have a state-issued zip tie attached. Each zip tie would cost $100 and be valid for one year.

Under the bill, smoking marijuana in public would be prohibited, as would driving while under the influence of marijuana.

A portion of the revenue from regulating marijuana would go toward alcohol, tobacco and drug treatment. The marijuana trade would be regulated by the state comptroller’s office.

The bill introduced by Anderson (D-Dist. 43) of Baltimore also provides for the creation of a 12-member oversight committee.

Maryland traditionally has lagged behind other progressive states when it comes to drug policy, still having not legalized medical marijuana, as 18 states and Washington, D.C., have. However, Maryland does allow a doctor’s prescription as an affirmative defense in court.

“The issue always comes down to the fact that it’s a federally controlled dangerous substance,” said House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis. “How do you regulate it, sell it, transport it and everything?”

Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that advocates for marijuana policy reform, called on Maryland legislators to “once again make prohibition a thing of the past.”

“It is time for a new, more sensible approach to marijuana in Maryland, and that is what this bill proposes,” Riffle said in a statement.

hnunn@gazette.net