Cannabis: Question #4 on the 2022 Maryland Ballot
By Bill Huber, Of Counsel
“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 1st, 2023, in the State of Maryland?” That is the question voters will be asked through a referendum, known as “Issue #4”, on the general election ballot this November. Not surprising, as has been reported in recent years, the majority of Marylanders support adult recreational use of cannabis. But recent polls show a significant increase in that majority. Consistently, at lest 68% of Marylanders polled supported adult-use legalization over the past 2 years. However, a more recent poll supported by the Washington Post and University of Maryland finds that a whopping 73% of Maryland voters surveyed favor legalization; and of those, 87% of all voters under 40 surveyed favored legalization.
Maryland has followed the standard approach to legalization of cannabis. First comes de-criminalization, then legalization of a medical market, and ultimately extending legalization into an adult-use market. However, it has been rare to see a state with such strong support from its voters at this stage. When the final legislation and operational regulations become finalized, it is expected to include an expungement opportunity for those who have been convicted of simple cannabis possession, and an opportunity for those who are currently serving time to have their sentences reconsidered.