A Legislator From Maryland Has Pre-Filled A Bill To Add On The State’s 2022 Ballot
The language of the bill is from Del. Luke Clippinger. This is who serves as chairman of a marijuana workgroup. To which this group has been investigating the problem was posted online on Wednesday.
The bill, which aims to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, has been designated House Bill 1. This is an indicator that it will be a priority. It’s set to be formally presented at the start of the session on January 12, 2022. And has been directed to the Judiciary Committee, which Clippinger also chairs.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) has been working to get congress in a good place to pass the reform asap. As well as her announcing the construction of a cannabis workgroup this summer. To which he stated that lawmakers “will pass legislation early next year” to refer the question of legalization to voters.
If passed in the legislature, the following question would go on the November ballot: “Do you favor the legalization of adult-use cannabis in the State of Maryland?” If approved, it would then be up to lawmakers to develop rules permitting the “use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of cannabis within the state.”
Next Step For Cannabis Legislation In Maryland
As many see advocates have been pushing for cannabis reform. This bill has at least two parts to this measure that are already encountering issues. Initially, it puts an effective date for the legalization of simple possession about eight months after the election. This date is July 1, 2023. Others states have progressed at a much faster rate.
This includes New York where low-level possession was instantly legalized following the signing of the reform bill. Next, it would not need the legislature to allow for home cultivation. Which was an essential requirement that activists have incorporated in a draft referendum that they hoped lawmakers would model.
“While we are grateful legislative leaders are prioritizing cannabis legalization in 2022, we are disappointed the pre-filed House referendum would continue the devastating war on cannabis for months after voters legalize cannabis,” Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project. “We strongly urge legislators to revise the proposal to legalize possession and home cultivation upon enactment.”
“We also urge the legislature to pass implementing legislation in 2022 to ensure racial justice is at the heart of legalization, and to allow for a more timely transition to a safe, regulated market,” she said.
Maryland Is Pushing For Cannabis Reform
The bill’s language was made available on Wednesday. Yet it was first asked about back in August. Where it was asked for before the House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup had held any meetings. Members have been examining a wide spectrum of issues related to business licensing.
As well as the expungement of prior convictions, criminal. Plus traffic laws related to marijuana, social equity, and cannabis tax policy. In October, the workgroup held a meeting involving leading federal drug officials. This is where they gave legislators some advice on legalization in anticipation of the referendum.
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D), meanwhile, said in July that the reform is “beyond past due” in the state. Yet he seemed hesitant to embrace a referendum process. Rather he wants to pass a bill to rid cannabis prohibition sooner than next November. Cannabis legislation did start to pass through the legislature during the 2021 session. Yet no votes were ultimately put together.
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing back in March. The hearing was in regards to a legalization bill sponsored by Ferguson, the majority leader, and key committee chairs. That followed a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a separate cannabis proposal in February.
Final Thoughts On Maryland Going Legal
Legislators have worked to harmonize the discrepancies between the House and Senate proposals. With the goal of getting a bill to the desk of Gov. Larry Hogan. He has not approved legalization yet he has shown signs he may be open to considering the idea.
Maryland lawmakers considered the two marijuana legalization bills this past session. A poll discovered that residents in Maryland are all in favor of the policy change. 67 percent of Marylanders now support legalizing cannabis. This is according to a Goucher College survey. Just 28 percent are opposed. Tension to pass the reform is also building regionally. Marijuana legalization took effect in Virginia in July, for example.
Medical marijuana in Maryland was legalized back in 2021 through an act of the legislature. Two years later, a decriminalization bill took effect. The decriminalization bill replaced criminal penalties for possession of fewer than 10 grams. Along with a civil fine of $100 to $500. Since then, however, a good amount of efforts to advance marijuana reform have has been short stopped.