Maryland Prioritizes Cannabis Reform for 2022

A top Maryland legislator has pre-filed a measure to put cannabis legalization on Maryland’s 2022 ballot.

The verbiage of the bill from Delegate Luke Clippinger (D-MA)—who operates as chairman of a cannabis workgroup that’s been investigating the matter—was revealed online earlier this week.

The cannabis measure, which looks to put a constitutional revision on the ballot, has been assigned the label House Bill 1, symbolizing that the cannabis measure will be prioritized. It’s established to be formally revealed at the start of the 2022 legislative session on January 12 and has been directed to the Maryland Judiciary Committee.

Maryland House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D-MA) has been pushing to get the cannabis bill in a good space to move forward the cannabis reform measure quickly, promoting the formation of a weed workgroup this summer and expressing that legislators “will pass [cannabis-related measures] early next year.”

If put forth in the Maryland legislature, the subsequent inquiry would go on the Fall ballot: “Do you favor the passing of adult-use cannabis in the State of Maryland?” If put forth, it would then be up to Maryland legislators to design rules allowing the “use, allocation, ownership, regulation, and tariff of cannabis within the state of Maryland.”

While cannabis advocates have been pushing for weed reform, there are at least two elements to this bill that are already facing resistance.

Initially, it sets an effective date for the legalization of basic ownership about half a year after the election, July 1, 2023. Others locales have moved considerably more quickly, including in New York, where basic possession of cannabis was immediately legalized following the signing of the cannabis reform measure.

Next, it would not require the measure to permit for private cannabis cultivation—a key guideline that cannabis reform activists have included in a proposed referendum that they hoped Maryland legislators would follow.

“While we are grateful MA legislative officials are prioritizing cannabis legalization in 2022, we are dissatisfied the pre-filed Maryland House referendum would resume the marginalizing war on cannabis for quite some time after Maryland voters legalize cannabis,” Karen O’Keefe, head of state guidelines for the CannabisPolicy Project, told a preferred cannabis multimedia source. “We strongly encourage lawmakers to alter the bid to legalize possession and home growing upon implementation.”

“We also demand the Maryland legislature to pass enforcing legislation in 2022 to ensure racial justice is at the core of cannabis legalization and to permit for a more timely shift to a safe, regulated cannabis market,” she expressed.

Clippinger’s office did not instantly reply to a preferred cannabis multimedia source’s request for word about the newly released benchmark for cannabis.

The law’s text was made available last week, but it was first asked earlier in the summer—prior to the Maryland House Cannabis Change, and Legalization Workgroup had held any panels. Constituents have been examining a wide range of problems connected to cannabis business licensing, expungement of previous convictions, criminal and traffic measures related to cannabis, social equity, and cannabis tax reform.

Earlier this Fall, the workgroup held a meeting where a top federal drug official gave legislators some advice on legalization in anticipation of the referendum.

Maryland Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) stated earlier this Summer that the cannabis reform is “beyond due” in Maryland. However, he seemed unwilling to embrace a change process and wanted to pass a measure to end cannabis prohibition sooner than the Fall of 2022.

Cannabis legalization lawmaking did start to make progress in the legislature during the 2021 session, but no votes were harbored.

The Senate Finance Committee of Maryland held a panel earlier this Spring on a legalization measure backed by Ferguson, the majority leader, and key committee personnel.

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