Question #4 will be an important one on Maryland’s November ballot. Lawmakers recently finalized the language for the cannabis legalization referendum that will be put before voters in the upcoming election:
“Do you favor the legalization of the use of cannabis by an individual who is at least 21 years of age on or after July 1, 2023, in the State of Maryland?”
The road leading up to this question has had multiple important legal and political stops along the way, and if voters approve the referendum, the road ahead will have even more as lawmakers will be tasked with creating the legislation that regulates adult recreational use of marijuana in Maryland.
During the 2022 legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly passed HB1, a bill to put the cannabis legalization referendum on the November 2022 ballot. Because the bill involved a referendum question, it did not have to be signed into law by the Governor and it advanced directly to the voters to decide in the upcoming election.
This summer, the Maryland House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup met to hear testimony and discuss regulatory plans. With approval from voters, more specific legislation — including laws guiding commercial and retail regulations–will be discussed by lawmakers in the 2023 session.
In addition to HB1, lawmakers passed HB837 in the last session. Moving ahead without the Governor’s signature, this companion legislation sets forth basic rules around adult recreational use of marijuana if the ballot referendum passes.
Of note regarding HB837: A Cannabis Business Assistance Fund would support equity initiatives for minority- and women-owned businesses and go toward incubator and educational programs.
Eighteen other states have legalized adult recreational use of cannabis. Will Maryland be next? The road to the referendum this November will provide clarity from the voters and identify what lawmakers will need to address in the upcoming session.