Maryland’s Senate approves marijuana sales; market could arrive this summer

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The state will now have to put the final touches on its marijuana plans for a quick rollout

Maryland may not have moved as quickly as Missouri since voters made a positive decision on recreational marijuana last November. Still, lawmakers say they are fine-tuning the final details to welcome it to the market as soon as possible. The cannabis sales bill was recently amended and approved by a Maryland Senate committee, kicking off the first preparations for the state to open the doors to adult-use cannabis. The measure has now been sent to the floor for a vote that should be brought up this week.

Members of the Senate Finance Committee approved the bill by Senators Antonio Hayes and Brian Feldman in a 7-2 vote. Some problems with the legislation needed to be addressed before the measure could move forward, said Senate President Bill Ferguson. By that, he was referring to input from existing hemp companies that expressed concern about the possible ramifications of the measure as presented.

The senior senator said some colleagues are still debating this issue and described it as a “difficult issue” that will be addressed as the bill moves forward. While it is true that the measures were identical when they were released, the Senate and House legislation has now received different modifications.

The Senate president said he expects bicameral lawmakers to work hand-in-hand to reach an agreement between the differences between the two versions, “potentially” in a conference committee, sooner rather than later. He added, “We want to get this moving. There’s a lot of pieces to this. And I think, you know, there’s no such thing as perfect in legislation. It’s doing the best you can to mitigate any of the potential unintended consequences that we can imagine today.”