Maryland Lawmakers Pass Recreational Marijuana Sales Bill
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Maryland Lawmakers Pass Recreational Marijuana Sales Bill

After months of negotiations on taxation and social equity issues, Maryland lawmakers passed legislation this weekend to regulate the commercial cannabis industry. The bill, which will allow regulated recreational marijuana sales to start on July 1, is now headed to the desk of Democratic Governor. Wes Moore. The Maryland Senate approved the bill with amendments Friday by a vote 30-12. The amended bill was passed by the Maryland Senate with amendments on Friday. This follows a vote of 30-12. According to the Washington Post, the governor is expected to sign the bill. The House of Delegates approved the amended version of the legislation on Saturday with a 104-35 vote. This sent the bill to Moore for consideration. At a press conference, Democratic Senator Melony Griffith, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, stated, “What did you wish you knew when you set up the program?” “We have a lot of expertise in Maryland with our medicinal cannabis program and have had great success. All of these ingredients, if I may, have been incorporated into our cannabis framework.” In November, Maryland voters legalized recreational cannabis with the passage Question 4, a state referendum which was passed with nearly two-thirds vote. The legislature passed the bill on Saturday, setting the stage for legalization. Adults 21 years and older can now possess up to 1.5 ounces and grow up two cannabis plants at home. This will take effect from July 1. The legislation would create a new regulation and enforcement section within the state’s Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, now known as the Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Commission. The legislation contains provisions that guide regulation of cannabis sales and production, and imposes a 9% tax for recreational marijuana purchases. Lawmakers Block a New Amendment to Further Restrain Dispensaries. Before the bill was passed in Congress, Wayne A. Hartman, a Republican Delegate, proposed an amendment that would increase distance between cannabis dispensaries from 500 feet up to one mile. The proposal would have required dispensaries be at least one-mile from schools, parks, playgrounds, and libraries. Hartman said, “I can’t say that I’m heartbroken.” They asked us to make sure that this was done in an equitable and fair manner. They asked us to ensure that they didn’t put them all in one spot and that everyone who wants to buy cannabis has access. Social Equity A PriorityTo promote equity in the marijuana industry and ownership by those adversely affected by marijuana prohibition, the first licenses in Maryland will be reserved to applicants for social equity. An applicant must be at least 65% owner by someone who has lived in a “disproportionately affected area” for the past five years or attended a school in such an area. The bill also creates a new Office of Social Equity in the cannabis division to promote participation by “people from communities that have previously been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs,” Wilson said at a committee hearing for the bill last month.Brian Vicente, founding partner at the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, lauded the approval of the cannabis commerce legalization bill by the Maryland legislature.”Maryland continues its charge towards legalization with the House and Senate sending a regulatory bill to the governor’s desk to establish a robust, adult-use licensing structure,” Vicente wrote in an email to High Times. “This law will increase cannabis businesses and the first round will be social equity applicants. It’s not surprising that Maryland’s legislature is working quickly to implement legalization after state voters approved it by 70%. They are still on track to start adult-use sales by July 1.


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