The Maryland General Assembly has convened its task force to study cannabis legalization in the state, the Baltimore Sun reports. The task force’s findings and conclusions will go far in determining whether the full legislature will consider legalizing cannabis for adult use in the state next session or put the issue to voters via a ballot initiative.
The task force will form several subcommittees to explore the impact of legalization including criminal justice, public health, and best approaches regarding licensing, taxation and social equity – which was a hot-button issue that led to lawsuits when the state legalized medical cannabis.
The state currently has 15 licensed medical cannabis cultivators, 18 processors, and 77 operational dispensaries, according to William Tilburg, director of policy and government affairs for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. Last year, medical cannabis sales in Maryland totaled $109 million. Tilburg also noted that less than 1 percent of the nation’s canna-businesses are African American owned, stressing the need for diversity in the state’s licensing if they move forward with recreational legalization.
Task force member Del. Nick J. Mosby (D-Baltimore) urged the body to eliminate caps on the number of licenses available in the state.
“Is there an advantage to the residents of Maryland to have an arbitrarily limited cap on the number of licenses, particularly when you look at the fact that this industry is doing so well – $86 million in six months to a handful of folks?” – Mosby, during comments at a task force meeting, via the Sun
The task force includes nine Democrats and four Republicans.