Maryland House agrees to welcome a public vote on recreational cannabis legislation this fall


In November, Maryland voters will get the chance to decide on whether or not they want recreational cannabis to be legalized across the state.

On Friday, February 25, the House voted 96-34 in favor of a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis on a statewide level. Ultimately, this sent the bill in the direction of the Senate. 

In addition to this, the House voted 92-37 for a unique bill that features initial procedural steps for a legal market, should voters approve. 

Regardless of whether or not the bills are officially put in motion, licensing and taxation issues will not be dealt with by lawmakers until next year at the earliest.

A separate recreational cannabis bill is being pondered over by the Senate. This particular measure would establish a regulatory framework without the need for a constitutional amendment.

An overview of the House legislation for recreational cannabis in Maryland

The House legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in Maryland indicates that consumers aged 21 and over could gain access to the plant by July 1, 2023. 

Not only would the law legalize cannabis for recreational purposes but also, it would amend criminal law and grant expungement to past cannabis possession convicts.

It should be noted that immediate criminal record expungement would only apply if possession was the only charge featured in the case. 

Maryland’s recreational cannabis law also permits resentencing for individuals who have previously been convicted of cannabis charges.

Other key aspects of House legislation for recreational cannabis in Maryland 

The recreational cannabis proposal emerges amid reexamination of prohibition across Maryland, not to mention the rest of the United States. Currently, the possession of up to 10 grams of cannabis is a violation, with first-time offenders facing a $100 fine.

Highlighted in the bill’s language is a segment suggesting that Marylanders aged 21 years and above should be able to possess a maximum of 1.5 ounces of recreational cannabis without facing a penalty. 

Penalties for cannabis possession exceeding 1.5 ounces and up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis would be changed to a civil offense, as opposed to a misdemeanor. Conversely, possession exceeding 2.5 ounces would be a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months behind bars and a fine of $1,000.

In the event that a legal cannabis market is launched in Maryland, the state would be required to form a set of business regulations in alignment with race- and gender-neutral needs.

Additionally, the proposed legislation aims to create a funding pool for small, minority-owned and female-owned cannabis businesses.

As of March 2022, 18 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have fully legalized cannabis. Additionally, 37 states (Maryland included) have legalized cannabis for medical purposes.