On Friday, the Maryland House of Delegates approved a pair of bills that would allow voters to decide whether to legalize cannabis for adults’ use in November 2022. This marks the first time either chamber in Maryland’s legislature has voted on a bill that would legalize cannabis.
HB 1, the bill to refer the question of cannabis legalization for adults’ use to Maryland voters on the November 2022 ballot, passed the House in a vote of 96-34. HB 837, the companion bill that would be contingent on voter approval of HB 1, passed the House in a vote of 92-37. HB 837 includes details for initial steps of cannabis legalization, such as possession limits, limited expungement, and funding for minority- and women-owned businesses. The bill does not create a licensing or regulatory framework, and despite the likelihood that voters will approve the measures in November 2022, simple possession and limited home cultivation would remain illegal in Maryland until July 2023. Both bills are sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Luke Clippinger (D).
Meanwhile on the Senate side, Sen. Brian Feldman (D) has introduced SB 833, legislation that would also refer the question of cannabis legalization to voters on the November 2022 ballot. SB 833 includes a licensing and regulatory system, in addition to legalizing simple possession and home cultivation once the ballot initiative results are certified.
“Marylanders have fought year after year for equitable cannabis legalization, and this milestone is an indication that the era of prohibition is finally coming to an end. We applaud House Speaker Adrienne Jones for prioritizing efforts to legalize cannabis this year. With legislative leaders taking action on this issue, Maryland is well positioned to pass a cannabis legalization law in 2022,” said Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project.
According to an October 2021 Goucher poll, 60% of Marylanders support cannabis legalization. To date, 18 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older.