Maryland adult-use marijuana legalization effort fails for this year

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Adult-use marijuana legalization in Maryland must wait at least a year after bills failed to meet Monday’s “crossover” deadline for passing one legislative chamber and being sent to the other.

“Sponsors (now) are working on amendments to set the stage for legalization in ’22,” Karen O’Keefe, Marijuana Policy Project’s director of state policies, wrote in an email to Marijuana Business Daily.

Experts polled shortly after the November election had considered Maryland as one of the states most likely to approve a recreational marijuana market in 2021.

Democrats control the state Legislature, although Gov. Larry Hogan is a Republican who hasn’t exactly been friendly toward marijuana.

Maryland’s medical marijuana market has been ascending, with sales approaching a half-billion dollars a year.

But the adult-use bills, which included a focus on social equity and industry diversity, got stuck in committee.

Instead, it was neighboring Virginia, with only a nascent MMJ industry, that legalized adult use.

However, there’s a catch there, too: Virginia lawmakers must reenact key provisions of the bill next year in order to launch a commercial market by the scheduled Jan. 1, 2024, date.