Maryland Marijuana One Step Closer

The Maryland House has advanced legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in the state if voters approve a constitutional amendment in November. Photo: Shutterstock

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJLA) — After two pieces of legislation got through the Senate and the House, marijuana is one big step closer to becoming legal in Maryland.

The legislations have been voted on and passed in Annapolis, the first adds a question on the ballot in November, whether or not Marylanders believe that cannabis should be legal for residents over 21-years-old starting in July 2023.

And because that bill got sufficient support on the House and Senate sides, it does not require Gov. Larry Hogan to sign off on it.

The second bill has to do with the policy impact this would have on the state. This bill is on the governor‘s desk this morning and he has a couple of days to decide whether to sign it, veto it or not touch it all and it becomes law on its own. There are provisions that have also been added to the law that would allow residents to expunge their records of previous convictions for possession of marijuana and also ensures anyone who is being held in jail for weed, is released upon the certification of the referendum.

“We need to do the disparity study to make sure that we are eliminating impediments to people that would otherwise be disadvantaged to get involved in the process of being able to sell cannabis. We need to do that first and then we will deal with how much we are going to tax, what we are going to tax and how we are going to pass out the licenses,” said State Delegate Luke Clippinger, who is the sponsor of both bills, Chair of House Judiciary Committee, and Assistant State’s Attorney.

Opponents argue that this is being added on the ballot too early without knowing exactly where tax from pot sales will go. Another provision does set up a public health fund and completes a disparity study to try to determine how the state should set up the licensing process to be able to sell cannabis.

Licensing and taxes will be decided sometime next year.

If voters approve, possession of marijuana of up to 1.5 ounces will be legal. It also would remove criminal penalties of up to 2.5 ounces and create a civil citation.

“There are provisions to the law to allow people to expunge their records of previous convictions for possession of marijuana and also ensures anyone who is being held in jail for weed, to be released upon the certification of the referendum,” added Clippinger.

Currently, the possession of up to 10 grams of marijuana is a civil violation in Maryland, with a fine of up to $100 for a first offense.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia, have fully legalized marijuana. There also are 37 states, including Maryland, that have legalized medical marijuana.