Maryland House passes legislation to put recreational marijuana on Nov. ballot

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Maryland’s House of Delegates passed two bills Friday that would give state voters the opportunity to decide in November whether to legalize recreational marijuana possession and use for those 21 and older.

The legislation now moves to the state Senate, which is considering separate legalization legislation.

House Bill 1, introduced in the state Legislature in January, would legalize recreational cannabis possession and use by Marylanders on or after July 1, 2023 – provided voters approve the ballot question in November.

If voters say yes, the General Assembly would be given the job of crafting the regulatory framework governing a new adult-use market, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Lawmakers approved the legislation by a 96-34 vote.

The companion measure, House Bill 837, would be contingent on voters approving the constitutional amendment that would appear on the fall ballot.

Lawmakers approved that measure 92-37

According to the Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project, the bill offers an initial road map for legalization, including possession limits, limited expungement and funding for minority- and women-owned businesses.

“With legislative leaders taking action on this issue, Maryland is well positioned to pass a cannabis legalization law in 2022,” Olivia Naugle, MPP senior policy analyst, said in a statement.

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Maryland residents have shown strong support for legalization recreational marijuana.

Last fall, a Goucher College poll found 60% of respondents approved legalization, up from 50% in 2014, according to the Sun.