The Maryland General Assembly wrapped up its 2019 legislative session on Monday, April 8. It was a somber end to the legislative session with the passing of House Speaker Michael Busch, who was Speaker of the House of Delegates for 16 years.
A number of cannabis reform bills were introduced this session, including legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults' use. Unfortunately, neither those bills nor the bill that would legalize cannabis following voter approval in 2020 passed this session.
But, the state is positioned to seriously consider legalizing and regulating cannabis in 2020. A work group will be convening during the interim to study how to best implement the legalization of marijuana in Maryland. The work group will report its findings by December 31, 2019, just in time for the 2020 session. Stay tuned for updates from the work group and opportunities to weigh in on meetings!
In the meantime, be sure to keep up the momentum and let your delegate(s) and senator know you want them to support legislation to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older.
In other news, several bills to improve Maryland's medical marijuana program were also introduced this session. A bill that will allow edible cannabis products to be an option for patients was passed on Monday. It will be effective upon signature by Gov. Larry Hogan or 30 days after presentment by the General Assembly.
A bill to add opioid use disorder as a qualifying condition and a bill to ensure medical marijuana patients do not lose their gun rights were also introduced this session. Unfortunately, these bills did not advance.
There is increasing momentum for marijuana policy reform in Maryland. Keep the pressure up by contacting your lawmakers today and sharing this message with your family and friends in Maryland. Together, we can end prohibition!
Yesterday, House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Mike Miller created a work group to study legalizing marijuana for adult use. The work group, which was announced in December, will be analyzing legalization-related topics such as the impact on the criminal justice system, how to promote participation by small, minority-owed and woman-owned businesses, public health effects, and how the state should license and tax the industry. The group's report is due by December 31, 2019.
In other news, the hearings for the bills to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana for adult use this session have been scheduled. The Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee will hear Sen. Will Smith's SB 771 on Tuesday, February 26 at 12:00 p.m. Del. Eric Luedtke's twin bill, HB 656, will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, March 6 at 1:00 p.m. You can find a summary of the bills here. The House Judiciary Committee will also hear Del. David Moon's constitutional amendment bill to legalize marijuana for adult use on Wednesday, March 6 at 1:00 p.m.
Note that many bills are on the committees' agendas, so the cannabis bills may not be heard until several hours later.
You can voice your support by providing written or oral testimony at the hearings! We particularly encourage testimony from supportive law enforcement, clergy, substance abuse and medical professionals, educators, and those who have been harmed by marijuana prohibition.
You can find details on how to provide testimony for the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee here and for the House Judiciary Committee here. If you provide oral testimony, you will be limited to three minutes. Please be polite and respectful, dress in business or business casual attire, and avoid repeating points that have already been made.
Please show your support at the upcoming bill hearings, contact your lawmakers, and spread the word to your friends and family in Maryland. Together, we can end prohibition!