Maryland Lawmakers Hear Arguments For, Against Putting Marijuana Legalization On November Ballot

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Should Maryland voters be allowed to decide whether to legalize marijuana? That’s the question lawmakers are pondering in a bill that would put marijuana on the ballot in Novemeber.

It makes sense to supporters to put the question to the voters because in states where marijuana is legal for recreational use, it has been the voters who have decided.

Medical marijuana is being prescribed and steps have been taken to decriminalize it, but with thousands of Marylanders still being prosecuted for marijuana offenses, the Marijuana Policy Project says it’s time to put it to a vote.

“So far, all but one of the states that have legalized marijuana have done so through ballot initiative. The public is actually well ahead of some lawmakers on this issue,” said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project.

On the ballot, Marylanders would decide whether or not to legalize marijuana for recreational use, allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce.

The House Judiciary Committee heard pros and cons Tuesday.

Opponents include Mid-Atlantic AAA.

“At this point, we know that the State of Maryland is woefully unprepared to deal with the consequences of legalizing marijuana here in the state. We’re still trying to iron out how to deal with the medical marijuana program here,” said Ragina Averella with AAA.

A similar bill failed to gain traction last year.

“It certainly is an uphill battle, but if you look at the polling numbers, 64 percent of likely voters support this reform and we’re really hopeful that lawmakers will listen to their constituents in an election year, particularly, and follow the will of the voters on this,” Bell said.

The bill needs 60 percent of both the full House and Senate to get to the ballot.

If the bill passes, it is not subject to a veto by the governor.

Supporters say state control of marijuana sales takes the profit out of the criminal market.

It would still be illegal to consume marijuana in public or drive under the influence.