Md. Legislation Would Permit Adult Recreational Use Of Cannabis

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New legislation would put Maryland on the path to legalizing adult recreational use of cannabis, or marijuana.

Under the bill, Marylanders would be permitted to possess up to 1.5- ounces of recreational cannabis without penalty. Possession of amounts between 1.5 and 2.5- ounces of cannabis would face a civil offense.

Many previous convictions for ‘simple possession of marijuana’ would be automatically expunged, if that is the only charge in the case.

Other measures would create a Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council, and a Small-, Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Cannabis Business Assistance Fund. Supporters said the fund would assist those who are disproportionately impacted by marijuana laws, and support business incubators and educational programs at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

“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,” House Judiciary Chairman Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore City said. “With this legislation, we will be prepared with comprehensive policy that creates the best, most equitable path to legal recreational cannabis should voters say yes.”

“I want to thank Chairman Clippinger and every member of the workgroup for their thoughtful approach to the legalization of recreational adult use cannabis,” House Speaker Adrienne Jones, D-Baltimore Co. said. “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.”

The House Majority Caucus highlighted these aspects of the legislation:

Guided by the feedback of experts and input from members of the General Assembly, this legislation will:

  • Allow Marylanders to possess up to 1.5 ounces of recreational cannabis without penalty. Possession over 1.5 ounces of cannabis and up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis would be reduced to a civil offense rather than a misdemeanor.
  • Automatically expunges the conviction of anyone previously found guilty of simple possession of marijuana if it was the only charge in the case, and anyone currently held in a state prison or local jail for a cannabis conviction to be resentenced to end their term of incarceration. 
  • Conduct a study to collect data on patterns of use, incidents of impaired driving, and the impact cannabis use has on public health.
  • Establish the Cannabis Public Health Advisory Council to study and make annual recommendations regarding the youth-impacts, addiction and misuse, infant development, advertising, labeling, and quality control of legalized cannabis.
  • Conduct a disparity study that will inform the creation of a more equitable regulatory system and identify barriers to entering the industry.
  • Creates a small, minority–owned, and women–owned Cannabis Business Assistance Fund that will assist those disproportionately impacted by marijuana laws and support business incubators, educational programs at HBCUs and more.

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