Maryland votes to legalize adult-use marijuana

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(This story was updated at 10:51 p.m. ET with reaction and analysis).

Marylanders have overwhelmingly voted to legalize adult-use marijuana, according to major news outlets, laying the groundwork for a recreational cannabis market that is expected to generate sales approaching $1 billion within a few years after its launch.

Maryland is the 20th state in the nation to approve recreational marijuana.

As of July 1, 2023, it will be legal for adults 21 and older to use marijuana and possess up to 1.5 ounces.

Retail sales aren’t likely to begin until 2024 or 2025.

According to MJBizDaily estimates, the adult-use market in Maryland would generate $550 million to $600 million in its first year and could generate up to $1 billion in its fourth year.

What’s next:

  • The Maryland constitution will be amended to include that adults 21 and older can use and possess marijuana.
  • Maryland legislators will begin working on adult-use marijuana tax, distribution and licensing laws.
  • Criminal records for now-legal activities will be automatically expunged.
  • Research on cannabis use and the industry will be required.
  • The Cannabis Business Assistance Fund and the Cannabis Public Health Fund will be established.

Where cannabis is legal in the U.S.

Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, called the results a victory for racial and criminal justice reform.

“We look forward to working closely with Maryland lawmakers to ensure that the implementation of legalization is centered around equity,” Naugle said in a statement.

Curio Wellness, operated by California-based multistate operator The Parent Co., was one of four corporate cannabis donors to Maryland’s Yes on 4 campaign.

“Maryland currently has one of the most robust medical cannabis markets in the country, with the infrastructure to support a smooth transition to a robust adult-use market,” Curio CEO Troy Datcher told MJBizDaily via email.

In other races, Democrat and political newcomer Wes Moore, who supported marijuana legalization, was elected the state's first Black governor in voting that concluded Tuesday.

Democrat Chris Van Hollen was reelected to the U.S. Senate, beating out Republican Chris Chaffee.

Kate Robertson can be reached at kate.robertson@mjbizdaily.com.