Maryland is closing in on a plan to create an adult cannabis market, after making some adjustments to address potential issues.
Voters overwhelmingly approved last year’s ballot referendum legalizing the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis for adults, which will become legal on July 1st. But the state has not yet implemented the final rules on how to regulate the market.
On Monday, the Maryland Senate Finance Committee approved their chamber’s version of the Senate Bill 516, a bill to create a state market for adult use, with several amendments. The planned governing body would not, for example, be merged with the state alcohol and tobacco regulator.
The committee voted to create an independent cannabis department in Maryland to regulate the adult use industry. You will work separately from the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. He proposed both the original Senate and House bills including the Cannabis Commission as a section within the already existing Alcohol and Tobacco Committee, but that plan fell through.
Lawmakers have also modified the tax plan. Instead of implementing a graduated sales tax, starting at 6% and eventually growing to 10% by 2028, growing by 1% each year incrementally, the state will implement a flat sales tax of 9% once cannabis becomes legal for adults on July 1.
The Baltimore Sun reports The bill is moving towards its final steps before it is sent to the governor.
Lawmakers have to approve the bill before the state’s 90-day annual session ends on April 10. “We need to offer something to the governor,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Melonie Griffith told the committee meeting.
House copy of the bill, House Bell 556, It filed earlier this month, and is now awaiting a full vote by the Senate.
DCist reports Both the House and Senate versions are intended to address problems associated with launching the medical cannabis industry in the state. Maryland legalized medical cannabis in 2014, but it has been hit with a series of setbacks. When the industry finally came online, no black-owned companies were included in the first round of licensing, even though black residents made up nearly a third of the state’s population.
Maryland adult cannabis use practice
Voters agreed to question 4, or the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, on November 8, 2022. The passage of this initiative amends the Constitution of Maryland with Article XX allowing the possession and consumption of cannabis for adults 21 and older, beginning on or after July 1, 2023. The amendment also directed the Maryland General Assembly to “provide for the use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of marijuana within the state.”
Two accompanying pieces of legislation To grant licenses, regulate the sale of cannabis, and establish tax rates were introduced on February 3 in both the Maryland House and Senate. Maryland delegates Vanessa Atterbury (D-District 13) and CT Wilson (D-District 28) sponsored the House bill, and Sens. Brian Feldman (D-District 15) and Antonio Hayes (D-District 40) sponsored the Senate version.
An upcoming round of new licenses for growers, processors and distributors will roll out on January 1, 2024 to Social Justice applicants, defined as those who have lived or attended school in an area disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs. Another round of licensing will be rolled out after May 1, 2024.
The plan will allow licenses to be granted to up to 300 dispensaries, 100 therapists and 75 farmers. Smaller, smaller operations will be granted additional licenses for 200 dispensaries, 100 therapists and 100 growers.
Now, the Senate version of the bill will be moved to the Budget and Tax Committee, before reaching the entire Senate for a vote.