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May 2, 2013

A big day and big new realities for criminal justice in Maryland

As reported in this Washington Post article, headlined "O’Malley to sign death penalty repeal and scores of other bills today," two big national criminal justice reform stories are finding expression in one day of bill signing in Maryland. Here are the basics:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley plans to sign more than 250 bills on Thursday, including legislation to repeal the death penalty, allow undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses and legalize medical marijuana....

The bills were among those passed in an extraordinarily busy 90-day legislative session that ended last month. A final batch of bills is scheduled to be signed May 16.

With the governor’s signature Thursday, Maryland will become the sixth state in as many years to end capital punishment. Under the legislation, which O’Malley championed, death sentences would be replaced with life in prison without the possibility of parole.

The Catholic Church, which advocated for repeal, is planning to celebrate the signing by lighting up the Baltimore Basilica overnight. The landmark is the first Catholic cathedral in the United States.

MDPetitions, com, a conservative group, is expected to announce soon whether it will launch a petition drive to force a statewide vote on the death penalty repeal. If the group were to collect enough signatures, the law would be put on hold pending the outcome of a November 2014 referendum.

The legislation legalizing medical marijuana limits distribution to academic medical centers, which will be required to monitor patients and publish their findings.

Legislative analysts say it is unlikely that dispensing of the drug would begin before 2016. It is also unclear how many institutions might choose to participate. Two of the state’s most prominent — the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins University — have been reluctant to get involved.

But supporters of the measure have hailed it as a significant step toward a compassionate treatment option for people with such illnesses as cancer and multiple sclerosis. Eighteen states and the District have enacted similar laws.

May 2, 2013 at 09:20 AM | Permalink

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Comments

I'd be interested to read more about the limitations put on medical marijuana facilities in MD, and also in seeing their published findings once they are up and running.

Posted by: Juan | May 3, 2013 3:26:04 PM

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