Maryland voters on Election Day approved a Legislature-backed ballot question to legalize cannabis for adult use, according to New York Times election results with 82% of the vote counted. Voters handily backed the measure by a 65.5%-34.5% margin.
Polling prior to Tuesday’s vote had repeatedly found strong support for the reforms, with an October poll from the Washington Post and the University of Maryland gauging support at 74%.
Unlike most citizen-backed initiatives, Maryland’s adult-use question was proposed by state lawmakers and gives the Legislature the green light to set up the industry. The approval by voters triggers some cannabis-related legislation that was passed by lawmakers during the 2022 session, according to the Baltimore Sun. The legislation impacted includes a bill that starts a transitional period between January 1 and July 1 where some cannabis-related penalties related to possession would be reduced; criminal penalties for possession up to an ounce-and-a-half can be fined $100, while criminal penalties for possession up to two-and-a-half ounces will be replaced with civil citations.
Lawmakers also passed a bill that allows for the expungement of some prior cannabis convictions.
Starting July 1, adults 21 and older will be allowed to cultivate up to two plants for personal use at home, and up to four plants per household. At the earliest, adult-use sales could commence on July 1; however, when the General Assembly approved medical cannabis reforms in 2014, the first dispensaries in the state didn’t open until 2017.
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