ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown said Friday that Colorado and Washington state should be applauded for moving ahead with legalizing marijuana but he wants to learn more about what happens in those states before he would support legalizing it in Maryland.
Brown, who is running in the Democratic primary for governor, talked about measures relating to marijuana during a meeting with Baltimore lawmakers.
"There is a growing level of support in Maryland and this country for the legalization of marijuana, and so I applaud Colorado in the sense that we now have the benefit of observing the results of their decision ... what the pitfalls and problems may be, so that whatever we might ultimately do, if that's the direction we go in, there may very well be best practices," Brown said in an interview after the meeting.
Still, Brown underscored that he is not ready to endorse full legalization in Maryland yet. He said he is advocating a "slow-as-we-go" approach.
"I'm at the red light checking the intersection," the lieutenant governor said.
Brown said he firmly supports decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. Law enforcement resources can be better focused on more important public safety concerns, and black residents are disproportionately affected by current marijuana laws, Brown said.
Last year, the state Senate approved a measure to decriminalize the possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana, but the measure did not pass in the House of Delegates. This year, the House is giving marijuana legislation more consideration. House Speaker Michael Busch, D-Anne Arundel, has created a workgroup to focus on marijuana bills.
Brown said he also supports changes to Maryland's medical marijuana law. The law was enacted last year, but it has stalled so far under its current framework. The law requires medical marijuana programs to be run through academic medical research centers that decide to participate. So far, the program has not advanced, and lawmakers are considering changes to help get the program moving.
"We ought to take the necessary steps this legislative session to make whatever adjustments need to be, so that we can actually see progress and see whether it's institutions or individual providers prescribing marijuana where necessary," Brown said.