Maryland House Speaker Adrienne A. Jones (D) has indicated that she will support a cannabis legalization referendum on 2022 ballots and announced a plan to create a cannabis workgroup to lay the framework for the industry if the reforms are approved by voters, Maryland Matters reports. Jones said the House “will pass legislation early next year” to put the question to voters.
“While I have personal concerns about encouraging marijuana use, particularly among children and young adults, the disparate criminal justice impact leads me to believe that the voters should have a say in the future of legalization.” — Jones via Maryland Matters
Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) said the chamber would also move forward with advancing adult-use legalization, noting that cannabis is legal in Washington D.C. and that the state “must do the same.”
“…A large majority of Marylanders in both political parties support an equitable framework that immediately addresses the injustices in our current criminal justice system,” Senate President Ferguson said in the report.
The Maryland House Cannabis Workgroup will be headed by House Judiciary Chair Luke Clippinger (D), who said in a statement that “cannabis use has had a disparate impact on people of color for too long with no real impact on public safety.”
“This workgroup,” he said, “will establish the legal frameworks necessary to fully implement the legalization of marijuana and learn from the mistakes that other states have made before us.”
The workgroup will focus on regulatory and licensing structures, including social equity; criminal justice reforms, including expungement of cannabis-related charges and the release of individuals currently incarcerated for cannabis crimes; criminal and traffic law changes related to cannabis; the expansion of substance abuse treatment programs; and taxation and revenue distribution.
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