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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Difficulty of legislating morality

   Today brings Maryland a new penalty for possession of a small amount of marijuana.  It will no longer bring a criminal charge but only a civil fine.  Kind of like a traffic ticket.  This is just another example of how changing times brings new ways of defining acceptable behaviors.  It seems that updating out of date laws has to be done piecemeal.  We saw this happen with the marriage equality reform.  Overruling "don't ask don't tell,"  the Supreme Court ruling that the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, states using civil marriage as a stepping stone and finally states voting and courts ruling that gays could marry.  We see this happening with the marijuana legalization issue.  First you approve the use of medical marijuana, then you decriminalize the use of small amounts and finally you legalize the use of certain quantities for private use as was recently done in Colorado.  Does anyone not think that this is the path that Maryland is now on?  For elected officials they will always want to stay one step behind where the public is on any issue.  What officials maybe realizing on both these issues is the elective power of younger citizens that has propelled the movement on both these issues.
      When we look at what substances cause major societal issues there seems to be some hypocrisy in our laws.  The use of tobacco, alcohol and legal medications have more dramatic consequences than marijuana as shown in the chart below. 

 The new law is explained in this piece from NORMAL  

"In the state of Maryland, marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I substance, with a high potential for abuse and no recognized medical value. A person arrested for possession of marijuana can be convicted of a misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both.

As of October 1, 2014, the possession of a small amount of marijuana will no longer be a criminal offense.

Earlier this year, Maryland’s General Assembly voted to change the existing law, making possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana a civil offense, with a penalty similar to a traffic citation. According to the new law:

The fine for a first offense by adults 21 and older will be $100. No jail sentence will be involved.
The fine for a second offense will be $250.
A defendant facing a third offense will be required to appear in court, facing a possible $500 fine and the prospect of undergoing drug treatment.

In what may seem like an incongruous situation, marijuana paraphernalia is not decriminalized under the law set to go into effect Oct. 1. While arrest for the possession of such paraphernalia (pipe, rolling papers, etc.) doesn’t include jail time, it remains a misdemeanor offense with a potential $500 fine. (A person with multiple charges of paraphernalia possession faces a possible prison sentence of up to two years.)

Some Maryland officials hope to rectify this situation. Earlier this month, the Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a resolution asking the Maryland State General Assembly to “decriminalize the possession of devices used to smoke marijuana.”

    Do I personally think that decriminalizing marijuana is socially beneficial? As a non-user I think that the occasional use of marijuana is no different than being a social drinker. But the heavy use of any mood altering substance, whether that is alcohol, marijuana or prescription drugs, has negative societal consequences that have to be addressed in a consistent way. The new law on possession of marijuana just brings some consistency to our laws.

   Next clue Columbia Cash

      Cash is by against a tree near this area where some deer have bedded down.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Blog party at Seasons 52 tomorrow

 Tomorrow's blog party is a triple winner for me.  First,  I have always been a big promoter of these blog parties as a great way to meet folks into writing and reading blogs.  Blogs are such an interesting way to stay connected to our community.  Second, tonight's party is being hosted by the Howard County Library and its Choose Civility program.  As a board member of the Friends of the Library which is a sponsor of this program I would hope that more people would support our Library and its work.  Third, I have been thinking that I need to try the new Seasons 52 restaurant that has just recently opened.  Tomorrow's blog party helps me in all three ways.  Here is the info and registration for the party.

"Join us! As Howard County's Library System gears up for its annual Choose Civility Week and symposium, they're co-hosting the next HoCoBlogs party along with -- and at -- Seasons 52 in the new outdoor wing of the Mall in Columbia.

Come by! As always, there will be interesting people and great conversations; and Seasons 52 is being quite generous by offering beer and wine on the earlier side of the party, a variety of flatbreads (yum!) and chicken skewers. Make sure you save room for the minis, the scrumptious little desserts they serve. Weather permitting, we'll be outside in their adorable and spacious patio; weather not permitting, we'll be inside at one of their lush and cozy private rooms.

And tune in to the Choose Civility annual symposium. This year's theme is "The Ball's in Your Court: Can Civility and Sports Coexist?" The symposium is October 9th, 6:30-8:30 pm, held at the HCLS Miller Branch and free, of course. More info and register at"

    Next clue for Columbia Cash.

Money is by a tree near this area with the Harris Teeter container.  I didn't leave this container but some party litterbug did.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Columbia Cash returns

    This month's cash will be in Symphony Woods.  Right now Symphony Woods is only used sporadically during the year for special events like Wine in the Woods or the Symphony of Lights.

   With the new plans for the Inner Arbor this space will have increased opportunities for being a place for year around enjoyment by Columbia residents.  A little bit of Central Park for Columbians.

   This entrance to Symphony Woods is the one to use to find the cash.

 The cash is in the same container that was used last month and it is at bottom of a tree.  Tomorrow one more clue. Follow clues on Twitter with #hocomd and #columbiacash

   With the Orioles and Nationals both finishing at the top of their divisions could we look forward to a "Parkway World Series?"   Wouldn't that be something!


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Caribbean Culture Fest at Miller Library Sunday

From CA:

Free, family friendly Caribbean Culture Fest on Sept. 28 at Miller Branch Library

Celebrate the cultures of the Caribbean at an afternoon of music, dance, displays and delicious Caribbean food sold from food trucks and vendors. Enjoy the rhythms of bachata, reggae, merengue, calypso, salsa and compas/konpa.

The Caribbean Culture Fest is a free, family-friendly event that is being held on Sunday, Sept. 28, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Miller Branch Library located at 9421 Frederick Road in Ellicott City. It will highlight the English-, Spanish-, French- and Dutch-speaking islands of the Caribbean. The event is being hosted by Columbia Association (CA), the Howard County Library System and The Build Haiti Foundation.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Breakfast at Whole Foods

     Somehow eating breakfast at a grocery store doesn't sound appealing but I have a different opinion after having breakfast at the new Columbia Whole Foods.  The two breakfasts that I have had at the vegetarian diner have been better than I expected.  Half the menu items are even vegan.  Above is the egg biscuit with cheese and Mandarin oranges.

      The vegan farmers breakfast above was amazing with sweet potato wedges and 7 grain toast.  Don't let the absence of meat turn you off from trying this place.  You won't be disappointed.  Their coffee and lattes are also good.