The Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition released a General Assembly voter guide that documents and grades candidates' positions on cannabis policy. The release comes exactly two weeks before early voting begins in the 2018 primary election (June 14).
The General Assembly voter guide is based on a questionnaire that was sent to the 550 official House and Senate candidates contending in the June 26 primary. Candidates were asked for their positions on regulating and taxing cannabis for adult use and home cultivation, as well as for comments on the controversial implementation of the state's medical cannabis program. The guide also notes whether candidates have previously co-sponsored bills to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults or refer the question to voters. Legislation that would have allowed voters to decide was debated in the General Assembly this year, but it did not receive a vote.
"Marylanders do not get to vote on legalization this year, but they do get to weigh in on the legislators who declined to put it on the ballot," said Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. "This is their chance to send a message to current and future lawmakers that legalizing, regulating, and taxing cannabis for adult use should be a priority for lawmakers next year. Most people recognize cannabis prohibition has been a costly failure and they want to know where their candidates stand.”
Sixty-four percent of likely Maryland voters support making cannabis legal for adults, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September 2016.
Advocates also expressed concern at the large number of candidates who have not responded to the questionnaire, which was sent out over a month ago. More than three out of four candidates have not responded yet, including more than 125 incumbents.
"Maryland's cannabis policy affects everyone in the state, and it is receiving a significant amount of debate in the General Assembly," Bell said. "Many voters care deeply about this issue, and they deserve to know where the candidates stand on it. It is disappointing to see so many candidates are still not on the record on cannabis policy, and we are encouraging voters in their districts to contact them directly to get them on the record."