Legislators in Maryland are approaching marijuana legalization from both sides, as Senate Bill 0771 and House Bill 0656 were both introduced on Feb. 6.
Senate Bill 0771, sponsored by Sen. William C. Smith Jr., proposes adults can use marijuana if they are age 21 and over. It also outlines a system to tax and regulate adult use. Also, the bill addresses previous convictions related to marijuana and will lead to automatic expungement.
Possession would be permitted up to one ounce for marijuana flower and six grams for concentrate. Also, state residents would be permitted to grow as many as four plants at a time for personal use.
Meanwhile, House Bill 0656, sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke, outlines similar regulations and stipulations for marijuana legalization. Another constitutional amendment, House Bill 0632, was sponsored by Del. David Moon, which would add the legalization measure to the ballot so voters can decide the issue in the November election.
Marijuana legalization advocates, such as Olivia Naugle of the Marijuana Policy Project, feel that state residents are behind the idea of legalization, and the move is more a matter of time than a matter of debate at this juncture.
House Speaker Michael Busch is of a similar mindset, as he has noted in recent conversations with media that the consensus is in favour of legalization, and the move is “the future” — even if that is not the personal opinion of some individuals. Busch’s hope for marijuana revenue, once the state makes that inevitable move to legalization, is to invest in education.
For Senate President Thomas Miller Jr., the matter comes down to dollar signs. He has said the industry, which he pegs in the million dollar range, needs regulation and that the change to legalization is something that will be a definite in the near future. However, Miller says discussion of how to spend that revenue would be premature at this point.
For Baltimore residents, an announcement by the city’s prosecutor is a welcome indication that things are moving forward. On Jan. 30, State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced she won’t be pursuing possession charges against individuals. In fact, Mosby noted her focus will now be on vacating previous convictions that number in the thousands.
Mosby feels the efforts to pursue possession charges are not contributing to the overall safety of the city.