The Washington Post

Mizeur invites Brown and Gansler to join her in testifying for a marijuana decriminalization bill

Maryland Del. Heather R. Mizeur, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate. (Karl Merton Ferron/Baltimore Sun Staff)

Maryland gubernatorial hopeful Heather R. Mizeur on Monday invited her two Democratic rivals to join her in testifying for legislation she is sponsoring to decriminalize marijuana, calling it an area where “we can all come together.”

Under a bill introduced last week by Mizeur, a delegate from Montgomery County, those caught with less than an ounce of marijuana would be subject to only a civil fine of $100 rather than criminal penalties including incarceration. Those under 21 could also be sent to drug education classes.

In separate letters to Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) and Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D), Mizeur suggested it would send a strong message if the three major gubernatorial candidates appeared together at a hearing in Annapolis to support the bill.

The idea drew no immediate response from the campaigns of Brown and Gansler.

Mizeur, who has generally staked out positions to the left of her two better-known gubernatorial rivals, has advocated for legalization of marijuana as a candidate.

Her proposed legislation stops short of that. Mizeur has said that passage of a decriminalization bill is more realistic during the current 90-day session.

“For just the nonviolent crime of possessing a substance less toxic and addictive than alcohol or tobacco, individuals convicted of marijuana possession can go away for up to a year in Maryland,” she wrote in her letters to Brown and Gansler. “This session, we have an opportunity to change policies that have ruined lives, made our communities less safe and wasted valuable law enforcement resources.”

John Wagner is a political reporter covering the race for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

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