Maryland takes a big step forward in marijuana reform and ends criminal penalties for cannabis users caught with less than a quarter-ounce. This weekend the House voted 78-55 to decriminalize possession of 10 grams or less.

The Senate gave final approval to the legislation Monday afternoon and Maryland Gov. Mike O’Malley announced that he would sign the bill into law.

Currently, possession of ten grams or less is a misdemeanor charge with up to 90 days in jail and $500 in fines. More than ten grams is a misdemeanor charge with up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

Decriminalization of 10 grams  or less of cannabis could begin Oct. 1, 2014. Those caught with the amount on a first-offense would pay a maximum fine of $100. The bill would not do anything to change the penalties for more than ten grams.

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