In a sharp break from past practice, the State’s Attorney for Montgomery County, Maryland is now offering first-time marijuana offenders a $100 assessment and an immediate nol pros for either possession of marijuana or of marijuana paraphernalia. The deadly boring IPSA drug classes are gone as well. Pay your C-note and you’re out of there. The change is being made ahead of decriminalization of less than 10 grams of weed, which officially kicks in state-wide in Maryland on Oct 1, 2014.
IPSA is a drug treatment and educational program which all marijuana offenders were previously required to take in order to get a dismissal. Trouble is, most marijuana smokers do not believe they have a drug problem, and any drug treatment specialist will tell you unless you are going to admit you have a problem, “treatment” is a waste of time. So IPSA funds were spent on forcing non-interested participants to attend boring classes. With the new policy changes, drug treatment funds can be used for those people who have serious drug or alcohol problems and are motivated to seek help. Right now, exploding opiate use – including Oxycontin and other prescription meds – is the biggest challenge facing policy makers in the Maryland suburbs.
The State’s Attorney is also reportedly not even bothering to send small marijuana samples to the lab for analysis, unless there are special circumstances. Again, there is huge potential savings in not having small bags of weed analyzed by forensic chemists.
Cops and (some) marijuana defense lawyers are reportedly not too happy with the changes. How are we going to make our boat payments this summer? 🙂
Great that Mo. Co. is taking the lead on this. Too bad Mayor Vince Gray and U.S. Attorney Ron Machen are prosecuting every last defendant ahead of the District’s decriminalization, expected to become law in mid-July.