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Top Maryland lawmakers files marijuana legalization bill pending approval of polling referendum

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A prominent Maryland lawmaker wants the state to prepare to regulate adult use of marijuana if voters approve the reform on ballot this year.

Del. Luke Clippinger (D), who chairs the Judiciary Committee and leads the cannabis working group that has been examining the issue, had already submitted a separate action in December. Putting rationing on the ballot as a referendum question According to the plan of the Speaker of Parliament. Now introduce follow-up legislation based on study committee findings that would create the regulatory infrastructure for such a program if voters approved it.

House Bill 837 will allow adults 21 and older to buy and own up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana and decriminalize possession of larger amounts than 2.5 ounces.

“Marylanders deserve to be heard at the ballot box on the issue of legalization, but we cannot move forward without an implementation plan that addresses our immediate priorities,” Klinger said in a press release. “Through this legislation, we will be prepared with a comprehensive policy that creates the best and most equitable path to obtaining legal recreational cannabis if voters approve.”

The new proposal would also provide automatic write-offs for those with previous convictions for cannabis possession made legal under the measure, and people who currently serve time for such offenses would be eligible for re-sentence.

The bill would create a cannabis business aid fund to support equity initiatives for minority and women-owned businesses. This fund will be directed towards incubating and educational programs to enhance participation in the industry by those most affected by criminalization.

There is a great deal of talk and the need for fairness and reparations about passing this on. Meaning we know that some communities and individuals have been targeted, blacks in slums have been targeted primarily through the criminalization of marijuana,” Senator Jill Carter (Democrat), who is also working on the legalization, Tell WMAR-TV. “And we need to make sure that we fix the damage there and that we first take advantage of opportunities to get involved now in the legal project.”

House Speaker Adrian Jones (D) works to put the legislature in a good position to push reform quickly, announcing Formation of a cannabis working group last summer He stated that lawmakers “will pass legislation early” in 2022 to bring the issue of legalization to voters.

“I would like to thank Chairman Clippinger and every member of the working group for their thoughtful approach to legalizing adult use of cannabis,” Jones said Thursday. “While I feel strongly that voters should decide this issue, it is the General Assembly’s responsibility to make sure that we have a plan that is legally defensible and based on equity should they choose to legitimize.”

For Clippinger’s initial referendum bill, the following question will be asked in the November ballot if approved by the legislature: “Would you prefer to legalize adult use of cannabis in Maryland?” If approved, it will be up to lawmakers to develop rules that allow “the use, distribution, possession, regulation and taxation of cannabis within the state.”

There are at least two components to a referendum Measures already facing opposition.

First, it sets an effective date for legalizing simple tenure about eight months after the election, July 1, 2023. Other states moved more quickly, including in New York where low-level tenure was legalized immediately after the signing of a reform bill.

Second, it would not require the legislature to allow home farming – a key provision that activists have included in a Draft A referendum they hope lawmakers can serve as a model.

Among other components of the new legislative act, it will require various studies, including effects on youth, patterns of use, disruptive driving, advertising, labeling, product quality control and barriers to entry into the industry.

Members of the Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Working Group Discuss a wide range of issues Related to business licensing, the write-off of previous convictions, criminal and traffic laws relating to marijuana, social justice and cannabis tax policy.

In October, the working group held a meeting where a high-ranking federal drug official Give lawmakers some advice on legalization In anticipation of the referendum.

Meanwhile, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) said in July that reform was “overdue” in the state – but appeared reluctant to embrace the referendum process, instead wanting to Bill passed to end cannabis ban before November.

Legislative legislation began to advance through the legislature during the 2021 session, but no vote was ultimately taken.

The Senate Finance Committee held a A March hearing on a Ferguson-sponsored legalization billMajority Leader and Chairs of Main Committees. This came after a judicial committee in the House of Representatives Listen to a separate proposal for cannabis in February.

Lawmakers have worked to reconcile differences between House and Senate proposals in hopes of getting something to the office of Governor Larry Hogan (right), who has not supported legalization but has He indicated that he might be open to considering the idea.

As Maryland lawmakers considered two marijuana legalization bills last session, a poll found that State residents are ready to change policy. Two-thirds (67 percent) of Maryland residents now support legalizing cannabis, according to a survey by Goucher College. Only 28 percent oppose it.

Pressure is also mounting at the regional level to enact reform. Marijuana legalization takes effect in Virginia In July, for example.

Maryland legalized medical marijuana through an act of the legislature in 2012. Two years later, the Decriminalization Act went into effect that replaced criminal penalties for possession of less than 10 fines with a civil fine ranging from $100 to $500. But since then, a number of efforts to further marijuana reform have failed.

Bill to Expand Decriminalization Possession Threshold to an Ounce Passed the House of Representatives in 2020 But it was not taken up in the Senate.

Also that year, the governor vetoed a bill that would have been Protecting people with low convictions for cannabis use from having their records published in the state database. In a veto statement, he said the reason was the failure of lawmakers to pass a separate, non-cannabis-related measure aimed at tackling violent crime.

In 2017, Hogan declined to answer a question about whether voters should be able to decide on the problem, but by mid-2018 he signed a bill to expand the state’s medical marijuana system and said full legalization was worth considering: “At this point he said in That time, I think it’s worth taking a look at.

As for Maryland legislators, the 2019 House of Representatives committee Held hearings on two bills that would legalize marijuana. While these proposals did not pass, they encouraged several reluctant lawmakers to begin seriously considering change.

Read the full bill for marijuana certification from Maryland below:

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