Maryland State Del. Heather Mizeur (D), who is seeking the Democratic nomination to succeed Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), announced Friday that she has received the endorsement of the political arm of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, one of nation’s leading marijuana reform groups.
"Maryland’s marijuana laws have ruined lives, been enforced with racial bias and keep law enforcement from focusing their time and resources on more violent crime," Mizeur said in a press release. “We’re proud to have NORML’s support in the effort to make Maryland the next state to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.”
Mizeur is engaged in a competitive primary with, among other candidates, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler (D) and Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D).
“We believe Del. Mizeur and her running mate Delman Coates will provide the leadership required to help Maryland move towards a new, smarter approach to marijuana,” Erik Altieri, NORML PAC's manager, said in the press release.
The state delegate hasn't shied away from her stance on marijuana. In November, she released her plan to legalize marijuana in the state and direct the resulting tax revenue toward the state’s education budget, specifically targeting early-childhood education.
Mizeur discussed the funding mechanism for her education proposal in her opening statement at a candidate forum Thursday, hosted by the Democratic club of a retirement community.
Mizeur lists marijuana legalization as one of her issues on her campaign's website; neither Brown nor Gansler do the same.
O'Malley, who cannot run for a third term because of term limits, has voiced his opposition to legalizing marijuana in the state.
An ACLU of Maryland report, released in October of last year, found that the state has the fourth-highest rate of marijuana possession arrests in the country. The report also found that, despite comparable rates of marijuana use across race, communities of color throughout the state are policed differently for marijuana possession.
At the candidate forum on Thursday, Mizeur said she is running "a transformational, grassroots campaign," and emphasized her decision to opt into the state's public financing system. Ninety-two percent of her funds have come from donations of $250 or less.
The primary is scheduled for June 24.