Maryland voters will consider a Constitutional Amendment to legalize adult-use cannabis on their November ballots after the House passed a Senate-approved amendment to put the question to voters on Friday, the Associated Press reports.
Additionally, House lawmakers passed companion legislation to begin the process of implementing an adult-use system, leaving specific taxation and licensing regulations for next year. The Constitutional Amendment does not need the approval of Gov. Larry Hogan (R) but the implementation bill passed by the Democratic-controlled General Assembly would need the governor’s signature. However, if Hogan vetoes the bill, Democrats do have the necessary votes in the House and Senate to override the veto.
The Constitutional Amendment would legalize adult-use cannabis starting July 1, 2023, with a transitional period from January 1-July 1 where possession of fewer than 1.5 ounces would garner a fine. The companion bill legalizes possession of up to 1.5 ounces on July 1 and creates a civil citation for up to 2.5 ounces. Laws governing over 2.5 ounces would remain the same, the brief explains.
According to the report, the legislation contains expungement provisions, including automatic expungement for people convicted of cannabis possession alone. Lastly, Marylanders convicted of more serious cannabis crimes would have the opportunity to be re-sentenced, the AP reports.
Although Maryland has a medical cannabis sector — the state announced last year it had sold over $1 billion worth of medical cannabis — efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis through the legislative process have failed in recent years, leading to the current scenario where Maryland voters will decide the fate of the reforms.
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