Maryland lawmakers launch new recreational cannabis legalization push

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Legislators in Maryland have launched another attempt to legalize recreational cannabis, including social equity measures.

The move comes after an adult-use cannabis legalization effort failed in Maryland last year.

According to the Associated Press, House Bill 1, introduced in the state Legislature in January, would legalize recreational marijuana possession and use by Marylanders on or after July 1, 2023, if voters approve a ballot question in the November 2022 election.

In n Thursday op-ed for the Baltimore Sun, Maryland State Delegate Luke Clippinger said a new companion bill, House Bill 837, would address “disparities within our justice system.”

The legalization plan would reduce or eliminate criminal penalties, expunge possession convictions, conduct “public health and disparity studies” and support minority-owned businesses, according to information posted Friday on Twitter by Maryland House Democrats.

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Lawmakers “will not make the same missteps that occurred during the early implementing stages of Maryland’s medical cannabis program – missteps that initially kept diverse business owners, entrepreneurs and investors from participating in the industry,” Clippinger wrote in his op-ed.

The Maryland Minority Cannabis Business Association has called for recreational marijuana legalization efforts in the state to prioritize social equity in light of past disparities in the state’s medical marijuana business landscape.