Annapolis, MD — On Friday, Maryland lawmakers approved legislation to refer the question of cannabis legalization for adults’ use to voters on the November 2022 ballot. HB 1 passed the House in a vote of 96-34 and the Senate in a vote of 29-17. As the bill is a voter referendum, it cannot be vetoed by Gov. Larry Hogan (R).
Separately, HB 837, the companion legislation that includes initial steps for cannabis legalization that would be contingent on voter approval of HB 1, passed the House in a vote of 92-37 and the Senate in a vote of 30-15. The bill now heads to Gov. Hogan’s desk. Both the House and Senate vote margins would be sufficient to override a potential Governor’s veto.
HB 837 details the initial steps of cannabis legalization, such as possession limits, limited expungement, funding for minority- and women-owned businesses, and a community reinvestment and repair fund. The bill does not create a licensing or regulatory framework, and despite the likelihood that voters will approve the measures in November 2022, simple possession and limited home cultivation would remain illegal in Maryland until July 1, 2023.
“Marylanders have long awaited a new approach to cannabis policy and the passage of these bills is a promising step forward. We applaud the legislature for taking decisive action this session to finally end the era of cannabis prohibition, a policy that is both long overdue and supported by a majority of constituents. We look forward to working with Maryland legislators on this issue moving forward.” said Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project.
According to a 2022 Goucher poll, 62% of Marylanders support cannabis legalization. If voters approve the referendum in November, Maryland would join the 18 states and Washington, D.C. that have approved adult-use cannabis legalization.
Several other states are building strong momentum to legalize adult-use cannabis in 2022, including Missouri, Ohio, Rhode Island, and South Dakota.