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Senators spar with police over marijuana bills

Tuesday - 2/25/2014, 6:10pm  ET

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) -- Police and prosecutor objections to this year's marijuana decriminalization bills apparently aren't getting far with the Senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee.

In the bills' first hearing on Tuesday, committee members sparred with police chiefs who want to keep the drug illegal. Sen. Christopher Shank advised one chief to find a compromise -- to decide what features a bill would need to avoid hindering law enforcement -- because the drug war isn't working.

A bill sponsored by Sen. Jamie Raskin would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana. Another sponsored by Sen. Robert Zirkin makes marijuana possession punishable by a $100 fine instead of criminal charges and jail time.

Several senators kept quiet during the hearing, and Sen. James Brochin raised concerns about making marijuana culturally acceptable and inducing more people to use it.

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