House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Thursday he does not support efforts to legalize marijuana in Maryland, saying it is a â€śthreshold drugâ€ť and leads to the use of more harmful substances.
â€śIâ€™m not a proponent of legalization of marijuana,â€ť Hoyer said during an interview on C-SPANâ€™s "Newsmakers."
Hoyer said he was initially amenable to the idea of legalization decades ago when former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke began advocating for drug decriminalization. But Hoyer said as he learned of the drugâ€™s harmful consequences, he changed his mind.
"As I talked to people who deal with drug abuse issues, with rehabilitation issues, I became convinced that marijuana was, in fact, a threshold drug and it would lead to the use of harder, very harmful drugs,â€ť he said.
Hoyerâ€™s remarks come the day after Maryland Gov. Martin Oâ€™Malley (D) expressed his opposition to the idea during the annual â€śAnnapolis Summitâ€ť radio show broadcast on the opening day of the stateâ€™s legislative session.
â€śIâ€™m not much in favor of it,â€ť Oâ€™Malley said.
Bills to legalize marijuana are expected to be introduced in both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.
National polls have shown increasing public support for legalization. Colorado began selling marijuana legally on Jan. 1.