ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Marijuana possession is one step closer to being legal in Maryland.
On Friday the state's House of Delegates passed a pair of bills that would pose the question to voters in November.
The proposed legislation called HB 1 would ask voters to approve the legalization of marijuana for adults who are at least 21-years-old.
If approved by voters, HB 837 would kick in and begin the “legal framework” for marijuana use. It would also make it legal for adults to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces and it would end criminal penalties for possession of up to 2.5 ounces.
But even if the bills become law, simple possession would remain illegal in Maryland until July 2023.
In the meantime, the bills would expunge some marijuana related arrest records and require those currently in prison for marijuana possession to be re-sentenced.
“The simple possession of marijuana it would impact 300,000 cases in the state of Maryland,” said Delegate Luke Clippinger, who introduced both bills. “We need to do this, so that we can truly give people another chance.”
Despite vast support, one Democratic Delegate said the bills weren't progressive enough in addressing equity.
Cannabis legalization without an equitable framework is not progressive policy.— Del. Gabriel Acevero (@GabrielAcevero) February 25, 2022
Cannabis legalization without reparations for communities harmed by the intentional drug war is not progressive policy.
Center communities most impacted.
HB 837 falls short of that & I voted NO ❌
Also, neither house bill specifically addresses licensing and regulations, however Democratic State Senator Brian Feldman's proposed bill, does.
The Senate still has to sign off on the house bills before it can go to Governor Larry Hogan's desk and then on the ballot. It's unclear if the Governor would sign off, but the house passed both bills with a veto proof majority.