Earlier today, the Senate Finance Committee approved HB 1 (7-4), which would allow voters to decide whether to legalize cannabis for adults’ use in November 2022. And, earlier this week, both the Senate Finance and Senate Budget and Taxation Committees approved HB 837/SB 833 — twin bills that would take effect if voters approve legalization.
All three bills could get a vote on the Senate floor as early as tomorrow morning! Send a message to your senator now and ask them to support legalizing cannabis this year.
HB 837/SB 833 include details for initial steps for legalization — such as possession and home cultivation limits, limited expungement, and funding for minority- and women-owned businesses — that would be contingent on voter approval of HB 1. SB 833 originally went further to set up a regulatory structure for adult-use legalization, but it was amended to mirror HB 837 in committee.
The Senate Finance Committee amended the bills to include several changes from the House-passed version, including adding a community reinvestment and repair fund and ensuring a disparity study is complete before issuing adult-use license applications. Unfortunately, the bill was also amended to increase the fine for public smoking from up to $50 for a first offense and up to $150 for a second offense to up to $250 for a first offense and up to $500 for a second offense.
You can check out our summary of the bills, as amended, here.
The clock is ticking to ensure legalization crosses the finish line this legislative session! Session is set to adjourn on April 11. Because this is an election year, lawmakers will have the opportunity to override vetoes by Gov. Hogan (R) only if the bills reach his desk by the end of this week. Encouragingly, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) has said he expects disagreements between the two chambers on the legislation to be resolved by then.
To help ensure this is the year Maryland moves forward with legalization, email your senator today. Then, forward this message to your friends and family in the state and encourage them to do the same.