Maryland voters are expected to pass an adult-use cannabis legalization referendum in November, but industry officials are concerned the commercial market might not launch until 2025.
After voters have their say, lawmakers will need to agree on a regulatory structure, but they are reluctant to commit to a firm timetable, according to The Baltimore Sun.
A group of Maryland House lawmakers are scheduled to meet Tuesday for some preliminary discussions, the Sun reported, but a “disparity study” critical to developing a diverse, equitable recreational marijuana industry isn’t expected to be finished until the middle of the 2023 legislative session.
Lawmakers expressed concerns to the Sun about not repeating the mistakes of the state’s medical cannabis industry, which failed to create diversity and is still struggling to do so.
Once an adult-use marijuana framework is enacted, regulators will need to establish rules, start the licensing process, and license winners will need time to develop their businesses.
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Maryland medical cannabis sales reached about $600 million in 2021, according to state regulators. The 2022 MJBiz Factbook projects that MMJ sales will hit between $600 million-$725 million this year.
A recreational marijuana industry is expected to be much larger.
An industry consultant told the Sun that she is hearing that existing MMJ operators might be required to pay a high fee to enter the adult-use industry – perhaps $1 million in the case of growers.