Activists behind a referendum on cannabis legalization in Maryland launched a new ad campaign last week, urging voters to support the proposal when they go to the polls on Nov. 8. If passed, the ballot measure would make Maryland the 20th state in the union to legalize recreational marijuana for adults.
In April, the Maryland General Assembly passed two bills to legalize recreational marijuana. Under the proposals, Maryland voters will decide in this fall’s general election whether cannabis should be legalized for adults, leaving lawmakers to pass additional legislation to regulate the commercial cannabis industry.
“We are at the beginning of an important process where we are beginning to review how we have dealt with the substance – cannabis,” said Delegate Luke Clippinger, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and sponsor of the legislation. told his colleagues in the House of Delegates when they passed the bills earlier this year.
Legislation approved by lawmakers includes House Bill 837, a measure that would legalize possession of up to 1 1/2 ounces of marijuana for adults and create a fair path to cannabis legalization, according to Clippinger. The bill would also allow adults to grow up to two cannabis plants at home.
Maryland Voters will decide Question 4 in November
House Bill 837 will go into effect if voters approve House Bill 1, a cannabis legalization constitutional amendment bill that will appear as question 4 on the ballot for the US general election. november. The referendum is widely supported by Trulieve, a cannabis grower and retailer with operations in eight states, including three medical marijuana dispensaries in Maryland.
On Thursday, the Campaign to Pass Question 4 launched a new ad campaign featuring a website and video encouraging voters to support cannabis legalization in Maryland. Eugene Monroe, a former offensive lineman for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens and chairman of the committee sponsoring the referendum campaign, said the ballot measure would create economic opportunity for entrepreneurs and workers.
“Legalizing cannabis would boost Maryland’s economy and create tens of thousands of well-paying jobs, while allowing Maryland residents to benefit from vital government-funded investments in education, public health and public safety. cannabis tax”, Monroe said in a statement cited by the Washington Post.
Supporters of cannabis policy reform in the Maryland General Assembly have said that legalizing marijuana would help the state reverse the damage caused by prohibition and the war on drugs. A study from the American Civil Liberties Union showed that between 2010 and 2018, black people in Maryland were more than twice as likely to be arrested for a marijuana-related offense as white people, despite evidence that both groups use cannabis at almost equal rates.
“Passing Question 4 will end the failure of cannabis criminalization, create a well-regulated legal marijuana market focused on fairness, and open new doors for local entrepreneurs and small business owners,” Monroe said. in the press release.
Prince George’s County delegate Jazz Lewis, who gave his reluctant endorsement of legislation passed earlier this year, said the legal cannabis industry should be open to everyone.
“We need to make sure we’re building a whole new industry where people can come in where it’s most appropriate for them, and have a support system around them so they can thrive” , says Lewis.
Maryland legalized medical marijuana in 2014, leading to the launch of the medical cannabis industry three years later. But none of the businesses licensed to operate in the industry were black-owned. Delegate Gabriel Acevero, who represents part of Montgomery County, said the recreational cannabis industry shouldn’t go the same way.
“Maryland’s General Assembly unfortunately got medical cannabis wrong,” Acevero said. “It didn’t prioritize fairness, it didn’t ensure that – in an industry that now generates millions – that the communities most affected could participate.”
“We don’t prioritize mitigating the impacts of the racist war on drugs – we’re just moving forward on this issue because we recognize that it’s very popular with Marylanders and that for some people it’s is politically expedient,” Acevero added. “But we have to get it right.”
Delegate David Moon, who represents another section of Montgomery County, is the chair of the Criminal Justice Impacts Subcommittee of the Cannabis Legalization Task Force. He said the group will wait for the referendum to pass and equity studies to be completed early next year before drafting a regulatory scheme, noting that it could be years before the Recreational marijuana businesses don’t open their doors to customers.
“That’s exactly why we’re on this kind of two-step process,” Moon said. “This whole licensing conversation requires some additional conversation and analysis, I think because of exactly the story [of the medical marijuana inequities.] The working group meetings that have taken place have been aimed at starting the basic conversations about licensing and health effects, so I think that’s really a preview of what’s going to happen in the legislative session of the ‘next year.
With 50 days to go, Question 4 is receiving strong public support. In a poll of 748 likely voters released Monday morning, 59% said they would vote for of the referendum.