BALTIMORE — Maryland lawmakers want to put recreational marijuana on the ballot this November.
Delegate Luke Clippinger (D-District 46) sponsored House Bill 1, which adds an amendment to the state constitution, making it legal to possess cannabis for Maryland residents 21 and older.
At that general election, a question substantially similar to the following shall be submitted to the qualified voters of the State:
“Question ___ – Constitutional Amendment
Do you favor the legalization of adult–use cannabis in the State of Maryland?”
And Delegate Clippinger is already planning ahead, for what lawmakers need to start working on if this passes.
"We will get ready for the 2023 legislative session, when we can deal with the regulatory aspects, the criminal justice impacts and a number of other details that go into the legalization of recreational cannabis," he says.
Those details are proposed in House Bill 837, which would allow Maryland residents to legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of recreational cannabis.
Possession over 1.5 ounces and up to 2.5 ounces would be reduced to a civil offense rather than a criminal misdemeanor.
Convictions of anyone previously found guilty of simple possession, where marijuana was the only charge, would have that part of their record automatically expunged, while those currently serving jail time for a cannabis conviction would be re-sentenced in accordance with the new would-be law.
Equity is also a large piece of the HB837.
It would creates a small minority and women–owned Cannabis Business Assistance Fund to help those impacted by marijuana laws and support business incubators, educational programs at HBCUs and more.
Senator Jill Carter said of the equity piece, "There's a great deal of talk and need for equity and reparations around passage of this. Meaning that we know that certain communities and individuals have been targeted, mainly Black people in poor neighborhoods have been targeted by the criminalization of marijuana. And we need to make sure that we repair the damage there and that we avail them first of opportunities to now participate in the legal enterprise."
"It's impacted communities of color for far too long," he says.