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Committee approves marijuana decriminalization

ANNAPOLIS — The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee has approved a measure relegating marijuana possession to a civil offense.

Three of the 11 Senators voted against the measure. Sen. Christopher Shank, D-Washington, who voted against it last year, said he was uncertain at the start of a meeting Friday. At the end of a 30-minute discussion, he held his nose and voted “yes.”

The committee has not voted on Sen. Jamie Raskin’s proposal to eliminate all penalties for possessing marijuana in small amounts, as Colorado and Washington have done.

Sen. Robert Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, introduced the civil penalties bill. He said he prefers Raskin’s bill, but he doubts it could succeed in the General Assembly.

Under Zirkin’s bill, possessing more than 10 ounces of marijuana would remain a crime.

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