Maryland Gov. Wes Moore signed six new bills on Wednesday, CBS News reports. The bills, in a win for social liberals across the state and country, collectively cover protections for gender-affirming healthcare, abortion, and cannabis reform. Let’s start by reviewing cannabis legislation.
Back in November, Maryland voters approved an amendment to the state constitution to allow adults 21 and older to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis. Sixty-seven percent of adults voted in favor of the bill, which creates licensing and tax rates. The tax rate for adult use in Maryland will be 9%.
Legalization is always nice, since it means fewer people in prison. However, given the exodus of legal cannabis from others States like CaliforniaWith the red tape, expense, and hurdles of legal setup, bills like these make one think that legal cannabis in the industry helps more sometimes is the black market.
Recreational cannabis opens shop in Maryland starting July 1. Established medical cannabis dispensaries will receive dual licenses to enter the adult use market. Additionally, in an effort to offset racial losses in the War on Drugs, additional recreational licenses will be prioritized for minority business owners in communities negatively impacted by previous marijuana laws. like Data from ACLU PresentationsDespite equal rates of use, blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana. “This will ensure that the introduction of recreational cannabis in our state drives opportunity in a fair way,” said Governor Moore. “Criminalization of marijuana has hurt low-income communities and communities of color in a profound way. We want to make sure that legalizing marijuana lifts up these communities right now in a profound way.”
Earlier this week, Governor Moore shut down concerns about conflicts of interest. He had nearly $1.2 million in stock in a cannabis company, which was transferred to a blind trust administered by Brown Investment & Trust Company and approved by a state ethics commission last week.
In connection with the other bills that have been signed into force, there are two measures aimed at expanding access to affordable health insurance. One would automatically enroll people in Medicaid who are eligible but not yet enrolled in an effort to reduce paperwork and award insurance to the estimated 65,000 uninsured Marylanders. Another bill includes a package of mental health care aimed at helping people before their mental health concerns become an emergency, such as creating a suicide hotline and crisis prevention.
Regarding abortion, in light of Roe v. Wade One Maryland bill intended to protect patients and providers from criminal, civil and administrative penalties related to abortion bans or restrictions in other states has been struck down, CBS reports. Another is a data privacy bill that protects medical and insurance records in sharing electronic health information. In addition, Governor Moore signed a bill to ensure that public colleges and universities in Maryland have a viable plan to give students easy access to emergency contraception and medical abortion (the abortion pill).
Due to restrictive abortion laws in other states, Maryland has become a “safe haven state” where people travel to obtain reproductive care not available in their hometown.
With regard to gender confirmation health care, one of the six bills relates to the Transit Health Equity Act and expands the number of gender confirmation procedures that Medicaid will cover in Maryland. Under the legislation, which takes effect Jan. 1, Medicaid will cover additional treatments for gender confirmation.
All six bills, from cannabis to gender-affirming healthcare, are tied together into a cohesive wellness package. For example, Research has shown Access to gender confirmation care reduces suicide rates, so ideally all six bills would make Maryland a safer and healthier place for its residents.