The Maryland Senate has now approved legislation that puts a referendum before voters this November on whether Maryland should legalize adult-use cannabis and begin implementing a regulatory framework if the ballot question is approved. Maryland’s Republican governor announced he will not sign or veto the legislation, and will allow it to take effect without his signature.
As we previously discussed, even if voters approve the referendum, legalization will not take effect immediately. Instead, effective January 1, 2023, possession of small amounts of cannabis would become civil offenses punishable by a $100 fine for up to 1.5 ounces, or $250 for more than 1.5 ounces and up to 2.5 ounces. Six months later, on July 1, possession of up to 1.5 ounces would become legal for all adults over the age of 21 and the possession of up to 10 grams would be reduced to a civil violation. Adults would be allowed to grow up to two plants for personal use and could gift cannabis to another adult without remuneration.
The legislation was amended by the Senate and the House of Delegates accepted those amendments. For example, language was attached to create a community reinvestment fund and allow state tax deductions for certain cannabis-related expenses that marijuana businesses are barred from claiming under current federal tax code.
Maryland legalized medical marijuana through an act of the legislature in 2012, but the sponsor of the current legislation, Del. Luke Clippinger (D), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee, said it was important to give voters a voice on the question of legalization prior to implementation.