Thursday, June 20, 2024

House Leaders In Maryland Introduce Marijuana Legalization Bill

The Maryland Senate also has been working on an approach to legalizing marijuana. The chamber has been working for months to develop an implementation framework.

By Maureen Meehan

Maryland lawmakers announced legislation they say will put the state on an equitable path to legalize adult recreational marijuana if voters approve the bill in November.

House Speaker Adrienne Jones said the bill introduced Thursday sets out to address criminal justice and public health issues, while also building a foundation for social equity in the cannabis industry.

Maryland Lawsuit Seeks Medical Cannabis Access For Out-Of-State Residents
Photo by Westend61/Getty Images

RELATED: Is Cannabis Legalization On The Horizon In Maryland? Top Lawmaker Unveils Marijuana Referendum Bill

“While I feel strongly that the voters should decide this issue, it is the General Assembly that is charged with making sure we have a legally defensible, equity-driven plan in place should they choose legalization,” Jones, a Baltimore County Democrat, said in a press release.

Maryland has had a successful medical cannabis program since 2017.

“Marylanders deserve to have their voices heard at the ballot box on the question of legalization, but we cannot move forward without an implementation plan that addresses our immediate priorities,” said Del. Luke Clippinger, who chairs the House Judiciary Committee.

What’s In The Bill

The bill would allow Marylanders to possess up to 1.5 ounces of recreational cannabis. Possession of over that amount and up 2.5 ounces would be reduced to a civil offense rather than a misdemeanor.

The legislation also would automatically expunge the conviction of anyone previously found guilty of simple possession of marijuana if it was the only charge in the case. In addition, anyone currently held in a state prison or local jail for a cannabis conviction would be re-sentenced to end their term of incarceration.

Senate In Step With The House

The Maryland Senate also has been working on an approach to legalizing marijuana. Sen. Will Smith, who chairs the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said the chamber has been working for months to develop an implementation framework.

RELATED: DC, Maryland, Virginia: Where And How Congress Can Buy Marijuana

“We will not send this to a referendum without having a clear idea as to what things look like in terms of the actual regulatory framework,” Smith said. “The regulatory framework has to be sussed out before we send it to the voters.”

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission. 


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