The Maryland General Assembly convenes today, and discussion of legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana in the state has already begun. Just last week, House Speaker Mike Busch and Senate President Mike Miller announced plans to create a work group to study how to best implement the legalization of marijuana.
Prohibition sends an incredible number of people through the criminal justice system, and the collateral consequences can have life-altering effects. Baltimore Fishbowl recently reported that post-decriminalization there is still a huge racial disparity in Baltimoreans being arrested for marijuana.
By legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana with measures to expunge records, the number of marijuana-related arrests will be reduced, and those harmed by prohibition in the past can move on with their lives. It will also free up resources so police can focus on more serious crimes.
It is important your lawmakers hear from as many constituents as possible. Please contact your lawmakers today. Then, forward this message to your family and friends in Maryland. Together, we can end prohibition in 2019!
Did you know that African Americans in Baltimore are five times more likely to be arrested for drug possession than people of other races, and marijuana is the most common drug possessed? To learn more and help be part of the solution, don’t miss this upcoming special event entitled Legalizing Marijuana: The Impact on Racial Justice in Baltimore City, organized by the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition.
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
101 N. Gay Street
Baltimore, MD 21202
It’s free and open to the public, but RSVPs are appreciated.
The keynote speaker will be Neill Franklin, who is the Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a former Baltimore City Police officer. Major Franklin now works to help end marijuana prohibition, and he will discuss how this would impact racial justice generally and Baltimore specifically.
We hope that you can join us for this informative event! Please pass this message along to any friends or family members who might be interested in attending and share our event on Facebook.
Managing a medical marijuana operation could potentially cost each grower more than $125,000 a year in fees, a sum so exorbitant some officials believe it may affect small and newly developing marijuana businesses.
According to The Baltimore Sun, Maryland’s medical marijuana commission has proposed for such a fee to be imposed on each of the 15 potential growers envisaged for the state’s new program. The commission has also proposed a yearly $40,000 charge for dispensaries. These steep license fees, on top of the estimated $6,000 in application fees, would finance the state’s incipient medical marijuana program.
“The volume of these fees, for probably many of us, takes our breath away,” commissioner Eric E. Sterling said at a meeting in Annapolis Tuesday. “It is simply a reflection that the General Assembly has put the operation of this on the growers and the dispensaries, and ultimately upon the patients,” he said. “There is no taxpayer money, according to the General Assembly, that is going to finance this.”
The commission plans to meet again October 16, when it is anticipated to take its final vote on the proposed regulations. The decision will be passed on to state health secretary Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein for review and then later go to a panel of state lawmakers for final approval.
Following Tuesday’s meeting to push the fees among draft proposals, citizens expressed concern.
“The number of licenses they’re issuing seems to be incongruent with their perceived demand,” stated Attorney John A. Pica, who represents a coalition that wants to open a growing and dispensing operation in Baltimore. “With high overhead costs and low demand, growers might be forced to increase medical marijuana prices to make ends meet, which would drive patients to the black market. You have to be careful that the price isn’t too high, or you invite the same scenario you had in prohibition,” he said.
The cost to operate a cultivating or dispensing business in Maryland is one of the last major issues the medical marijuana commission must decide on, following the state’s 2013 law that made medical marijuana legal. The Marijuana Policy Project plans to host a “Maryland Canna-Business Seminar” in Bethesda October 8 for entrepreneurs to learn about how to launch a marijuana business. In addition to educating would-be marijuana entrepreneurs, MPP will be urging the commission to reduce fees and otherwise improve draft regulations.
Jonathan Ogden, retired Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle, has applied for a medical marijuana dispensary license in Nevada, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal. There are a limited number of licenses available in Nevada, so it is still unclear whether or not Ogden will own a dispensary.
One hundred and nine other companies have filed applications, and only 66 will be licensed this year, 40 of which will reside in Las Vegas (Clark county) where Ogden has applied. Applicants must also show they have $250,000 in liquid assets and have a licensed physician as the medical director to apply.
Hopefully, the NFL will feel the pressure of having Hall of Fame leaders like Ogden publicly support medical marijuana. The NFL's stance on medical marijuana hasn’t evolved to the same extent as that of the nation at large, and the organization still imposes strict laws on players via steep fines and suspensions. However, with the NBA and NCAA rethinking their marijuana-use policies, perhaps, the NFL will move in the direction of acceptance.