Maryland voters will determine if they want legal cannabis this November
It appears that bills seeking to reform Maryland’s current marijuana laws are getting the support they need. Late last week, the state House of Delegates gave the go-ahead to two measures. One seeks to have voters make the decision on legalizing recreational marijuana. The next measure is intended to give those convicted of possessing the drug the opportunity to apply for expungement.
Under HB1, voters will have the opportunity in November to allow or disallow the implementation of a constitutional amendment to legalize the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis for personal use by anyone over the age of 21. Should the referendum receive enough votes, the law would go into effect on July 1, 2023. The bill passed by a vote of 96 to 34 last Friday.
Separately, the companion bill (HB837) intends for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission to have the authority to study and report annually on the long-term effects of marijuana use. It also seeks to allow this entity to expunge the records of those convicted of marijuana-related offenses. The vote on this legislation passed 92 to 37.
This being the case, both pieces of legislation will now move to the Senate floor for further consideration and analysis. Luke Clippinger, the sponsor of the bill, made it clear that he wanted the bill to focus on correcting the harms caused to those communities that in the past were criminalized for its use. “The thousands of people who have been incarcerated and those incarcerations have not made us safer,” Clippinger said during floor debate before the vote.