Del. David Moon: It’s time for Maryland to decriminalize marijuana

When I first ran for office, a reporter asked me whether I had smoked marijuana. I responded that the last poll I saw said 50 percent of Maryland residents admitted trying cannabis. I told the reporter that no matter how I answered, I was therefore a normal Marylander. Indeed, it’s America’s worst-kept secret that marijuana has been with us since the birth of the nation. Three out of our past four Presidents are frank about their “youthful adventures,” and the odd man out is not known for truthfulness. But even while cannabis is used by diverse demographics, we still see some users criminalized, while for others we look the other way. (Daily Record)

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Cheryl Bost: Investing in education is key to having top-notch system

The first classroom I ever taught in was Room 18 of Mars Estates Elementary School in Essex. It’s where I learned that my students — nearly all of whom came from low-income families — had much greater potential than their standardized test scores would suggest. It’s where I started a summer camp for my struggling students, so they could learn social skills and broaden their experiences. It’s where I fell in love with teaching. And it’s where I learned what an underfunded school looks like. Too few social workers and counselors. Class sizes too large. Teacher shortages and turnover. (Daily Record)

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Sen. Bob Cassilly: Don’t rush into full commercialization of marijuana

In 2014, the General Assembly took a major step toward the toleration of marijuana consumption by decriminalizing the possession of 10 grams of marijuana — that’s roughly the equivalent of 30 marijuana cigarettes. The marijuana industry is now pushing the General Assembly to boldly move beyond mere toleration to full-fledged commercialization of marijuana. So far, given the great uncertainty surrounding the true impacts of such a major public policy change, the General Assembly has wisely taken a measured, incremental approach and deferred the mass experimentation involved in outright commercialization to those states (Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington) that have volunteered to serve as national guinea pigs. (Daily Record)

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Bill Valentine: Demands for education need to be affordable locally, too

My name is Bill Valentine, a proud member of the Commission on Innovation and Excellence in Education. I represent the rural counties of Maryland for MACo on the Commission. MACo fully supports quality education for all, but understands the Kirwan Commission proposals must be affordable. A great group of dedicated people have worked on the problem of creating better education in Maryland for the past two years. Many great ideas have been put forth, but unfortunately, not enough effort has been spent on the cost of the new proposals and the ability of the funding partners to pay. (Daily Record)

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George Michael: Is Md's decision to deny the gas pipeline a victory?

Environmental activists were likely very happy to hear of the vote by the Maryland Board of Public Works last week denying access for the natural gas pipeline to pass under the Western Maryland Rail Trail. But is this a victory for everybody else? Many environmentalists have a knee-jerk reaction to almost any new energy project. Most of us benefit from lower energy costs made possible by companies getting more fuel to market, whether it be gasoline or, as in this case, natural gas. I like that I have the energy I need to fuel my car and heat my home. It seems, however, that for some the goal is to oppose progress at any cost. (Herald-Mail)

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Charles Scheeler: As a city, Baltimore could learn a lot from the Ravens

Over the last few weeks, the Ravens represented Baltimore’s hopes for who we want to be as a city. The team is scrappy and determined. They took their losses and injuries and turned them into challenges that propelled them forward. Entering the playoffs, John Harbaugh spoke with pride about the team’s solidarity and ability to become stronger in the face of adversity, turning to one another for reinforcement. Even in the face of defeat, players remained focused and unified. As a city, we could learn a lot from this team. We are Baltimore: gritty, perseverant, resilient, tough and never to be counted out. (Balt. Sun)

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Now that Fitzgerald's out, what's wrong with keeping Tuggle as Baltimore Police commisioner?

Rodricks: What’s wrong with Gary Tuggle? Monday morning, before we learned that Joel Fitzgerald had withdrawn from consideration as Baltimore’s next police commissioner — something I totally anticipated — I asked in an email to associates, members of the City Council and law enforcement sources: What’s wrong with Tuggle? I know what the interim commissioner said in October — that, at age 54, he did not have the five to seven years he felt it would take to fix the Baltimore Police Department. (Balt. Sun)

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To recruit city police officers: Free housing

Here's some ideas building on Dan Rodricks’ column on Baltimore's police officer shortage (“Baltimore’s need for more police officers, measured in square miles,” Jan. 4) and needed new incentives to aid in recruitment: First, the city invests in itself and renovates 400 vacant row house properties clustered in groups of 100 in four neighborhoods across Baltimore. Next, the city offers 400 new city police recruits the opportunity to move into them. (Balt. Sun)

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