Two substantive amendments are expected to be on the agenda today when the Senate takes up the marijuana decriminalization bill on the floor.
Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, said he will support to amendments he expects to be introduced by Sen. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington.
“I think they’ll make the bill stronger,” Zirkin said of the expected amendments to Senate Bill 364.
The bill in its unamended form would make possession of small amounts of marijuana, up to 10 grams, a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine.
Both Zirkin and Shank are members of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee which held a hearing on the bill in January.
Zirkin said Monday night that he was informed of the amendments earlier in the day.
The first amendment would earmark the money from fines for drug treatment.
The second amendment would require a person who is cited for the third time to appear in court where a judge could order drug treatment.
Zirkin’s bill pass out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee this year by an 8-3 vote. He expects the bill will pass the Senate by more than last year when the chamber approved the legislation by a 30-16 vote.
The real battle will be in the House Judiciary Committee where Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr., D-Calvert, Prince George’s, has been a staunch opponent of marijuana decriminalization and legalization efforts.