"The longer we delay the longer Maryland is going to continue to subject its residents to police interactions, arrests and criminalization for cannabis, which is now legal in 18 states," said Olivia Naugle, MPP's senior policy analyst.
"We've waited long enough for action. Prohibition has failed miserably in this country, and even one more cannabis-related arrest is too many — especially when a disproportionate number of those being arrested are people of color. As long as cannabis is still criminalized at the federal level, there will be limitations to what states can accomplish," said Toi Hutchinson, MPP's President and CEO.
Marijuana advocates applauded the measure as, “a thoughtful proposal that will end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition and create many economic and social benefits for the state,” said Jared Moffat, state campaigns manager for the Marijuana Policy Project in a statement.
"We are grateful to Speaker Shekarchi, Senate President Ruggerio, and their staff for the many months of work that went into finding common ground and crafting a thoughtful proposal that will end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition and create many economic and social benefits for the state. We’re looking forward to the public discussion on this important issue, and we’re excited that Rhode Island appears poised to join 18 other states that have legalized cannabis for adults later this year," said Jared Moffat, MPP's state campaigns manager.
The history of cannabis in the United States is marked by the exclusion and persecution of people of color, particularly Black Americans. Cannabis prohibition, along with institutional racism, have led to bar many Black people from entry into this multi-billion-dollar industry. MPP's President and CEO Toi Hutchinson is featured.
"Maryland is currently lagging behind the 18 states — including its neighbors in Virginia and D.C. — that have legalized cannabis for adults. Cannabis prohibition has caused decades of harm, particularly in communities of color, and it is long overdue Maryland moves forward with equitable legalization," said Olivia Naugle, MPP's senior policy analyst.
DeVaughn Ward, senior legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the COVID pandemic accelerated the delivery movement with many states deeming cannabis businesses as essential, which enabled them to stay open and offer curbside pickup and delivery. One of the main reasons for that, Ward said, was to provide medical marijuana patients, who may be immunocompromised, the ability to “have safe access to their medicine in a way that didn’t put them in jeopardy.”
"Marylanders have fought year after year for equitable cannabis legalization, and this milestone is an indication that the era of prohibition is finally coming to an end," said Olivia Naugle, MPP's senior policy analyst.
MPP President and CEO Toi Hutchinson said education efforts can allow “a reeducation for something that people have been told” about marijuana. And part of that reeducation is touching on the benefits that weed can bring to states and communities.