The Maryland House Judiciary Committee just approved HB 1, legislation that would refer the question of legalization to voters on the ballot in November, and its companion, HB 837! The bills will now head to the full House for consideration.
HB 837 includes details for initial steps of cannabis legalization — such as possession limits, limited expungement, and funding for minority- and women-owned businesses — that would be contingent on voter approval of HB 1. It does not set up a licensing or regulatory system. Simple possession would not become legal until July 2023.
The committee approved several amendments to improve HB 837, including:
- an amendment allowing adults to share personal-use amounts;
- an amendment to lower the maximum fine for public smoking from $500 to $50 for a first offense and $150 for a second offense;
- an amendment to allow possession of 12 grams of cannabis concentrates and infused products containing no more than 750 milligrams of THC, in addition to 1.5 ounces of flower; and
- an amendment allowing adults to securely and discreetly cultivate up to two plants.
You can check out our full summary of HB 837, as amended, here.
While these amendments are certainly improvements, there are still improvements we’d like to see. Notably, possession would still not become legal until eight months after voter approval of the referendum. To further reduce police interactions and citations for cannabis, possession should become legal immediately upon voter approval. In addition, we would like the implementing law to include equity-focused legalization of sales.
Please reach out to your lawmakers and ask them legalize cannabis this year without delay!
Thank you to everyone who testified at Monday’s hearing on HB 1 and HB 837 and to those who participated in our lobby days this week! Our advocacy efforts are proving successful.