Maryland Lawmakers to introduce Marijuana Legalization Bill

Posted by Sagar Satapathy on January 30, 2017.

Maryland legislators are introducing two bills on Monday related to legalizing marijuana use. One proposal would make marijuana use legal for adults 21 and older and regulate its production and sale similarly to alcohol, while the other bill would enact taxes on non-medical use of marijuana in the state.

Two bills backed by the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland are to be introduced in each chamber that would make major changes to the state's marijuana program, including adding seven new licenses for growers, seven for processors and twenty-five for dispensaries.

Senators Richard Madaleno Jr., William C. Smith Jr. and Delegates Mary Washington and David Moon will sponsor the legislation.

The bills also would disband the marijuana commission and recreate it as a division within the state's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. The new members of the division would be subject to approval by the state Senate and would receive a stipend.

However, the chairman of the marijuana commission has different opinion towards the move.  "To introduce a bill that calls for dismantling the commission is not only an insult to the dedication of the commissioners who have volunteered an exorbitant amount of time to the program, but threatens the quality of the program, and its very existence," Dr. Paul W. Davies, commission chairman, said in a statement.

This is not the first time legalization of marijuana has been proposed in Maryland. Former Del. Heather Mizeur included legalization in her campaign platform when she ran for governor in 2014.

Maryland has already legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The state's medical marijuana commission pre-approved fifteen growing and fifteen processing licenses for companies last year, in addition to one hundred two dispensary licenses.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, taxing recreational marijuana sales in Maryland could generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue per year for the state.

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