> Max. fine for small amount: $100
> Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 22,043
> Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 375
> Minimum penalty classification : Civil offense
The recently adopted Maryland Medical Marijuana State Program permits certified physicians to prescribe marijuana to patients diagnosed with certain conditions. As a result, the state’s first marijuana dispensary, Greenway Consultations, opened this past June. Still, the possession of more than 10 grams of pot is a misdemeanor in Maryland, and possession of less than 50 pounds with the intent to distribute carries a penalty of up to five years incarceration and fines up to $15,000.
Even so, there is a good chance Maryland is on track to legalize the substance. Governor Larry Hogan signed a bill supported by marijuana legalization advocates during the current legislative session. The Second Chance Act, under certain circumstances, permits individuals convicted of possessing marijuana, to have their arrest shielded from some records requests. As in most states on this list, a majority of Maryland residents support the legalization of marijuana.
9. Rhode Island
> Max. fine for small amount: $150
> Marijuana related arrests in 2012: 2,320
> Marijuana arrests per 100,000: 221
> Minimum penalty classification : Civil violation
Marijuana use in the small New England state is pervasive. An estimated 20% of Rhode Islanders aged 12 and up used the drug at least once in 2012. No other state in the country had wider use.
Of the states that have not legalized recreational marijuana use, Rhode Island’s laws are among the most lenient. Possession of up to an ounce is a civil violation punishable by a maximum fine of $150. First time offenders do not face jail time or risk a criminal record. However, possession of amounts in excess of an ounce carry criminal penalties and potential jail time.
There is currently a bill awaiting review in the state legislature that would effectively legalize and regulate recreational use of marijuana. Though the Rhode Island legislature went on summer recess before the Marijuana Regulation, Control, and Taxation Act received final approval, lawmakers may have a chance to review the bill again before year’s end. According to an April 2015 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, 57% of respondents in the state support changing the law to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol.