Maryland appears to be one of the next states in line to legalize recreational marijuana. Despite recent threats about Trump’s administration cracking down on recreational marijuana, many states still seem eager to move forward with their plans of legalizing the plant and ending prohibition. 4 years after legalizing medical marijuana, Maryland is still yet to fully launch its medical marijuana program but that doesn’t seem to be stopping legislators from wanting to push ahead towards legalizing recreational marijuana. Lawmakers have proposed 2 new bills for legalizing the plant. One of the bills deals with the criminal justice aspects that relate to marijuana legalization and the other focuses on taxing and regulating the industry.
The Reasoning Behind Presenting 2 Bills
The proposal was introduced by Sen. Brian Feldman and Richard Madaleno, Jr., who are both Montgomery County Democrats. Marijuana advocates believe that having 2 bills will allow different sectors and committees within government to review the proposals more deeply and begin to acclimate to the ideas being presented. “This way brings the bills before more legislators and gets them comfortable with both bills,” said Kaitlyn Boecker of the Drug Policy Alliance. There is the idea that residents and lawmakers would be able to better understand the bills if they are broken down in this way.
Details of Maryland’s Recreational Marijuana Bill
The medical marijuana program is set to be up and running later in the year and over 24 companies have already been approved to cultivate and sell the plant to those who qualify for the program. The recreational marijuana industry would build upon the infrastructure developed by the medical industry. Possession of small amounts of cannabis as well as home growing would be allowed under Maryland’s recreational marijuana bill. It would be strictly limited to those over the age of 21. Public consumption would be prohibited and so would driving while under the influence. Maryland would be amongst a host states that have legalized recreational marijuana including California, Nevada, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Washington and D.C.
The Profits of Legalizing Marijuana
Should Maryland choose to legalize marijuana they would stand to make millions. Growers would be taxed at $30 per ounce of flower and a 9 percent tax would be added to retail sales. $50 million in revenue is being predicted to be made by Maryland in tax revenue, although Colorado has 500,000 less people living there and they made $135 million in tax revenue. The money would go towards covering the cost of the program as well as going towards funding for schools, drug treatment programs, workforce development and preventing driving while high.
Last week, comments came out of the White House from press secretary Sean Spicer and Attorney General Jeff Sessions in regards to the administration wanting to crack down on recreational marijuana. Nonetheless, the benefits of having the program have continued to convince states to finally end prohibition. Maryland’s future will no doubt be influenced by how these new bills are received. With the medical marijuana program starting this year, residents and lawmakers alike will have the opportunity to test the waters and move forward with confidence.