New Maryland governor releases $46 million for adult-use cannabis program

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On his first full day in office, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore directed the state to spend $46.5 million to set up the recently legalized state’s adult-use cannabis marketplace.

Voters elected Moore, a Democrat and the state’s first Black governor, at the same time they voted to legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state.

That law does not take effect until July 1, and a legal market that MJBizDaily estimates could reach $1 billion in sales by its fourth year might not open until 2024 or 2025.

And unlike other ballot initiatives, Maryland’s law does not include details such as licensing and distribution regulations, leaving that work up to lawmakers.

In the meantime, Moore on Thursday released $69 million in cash that his predecessor, Republican Larry Hogan, had held in reserve.

Most of that money – $46.5 million – will go toward causes related to the Cannabis Reform Act, according to Takoma-based news outlet Maryland Matters.

Of that cash:

  • $40 million will go toward a Cannabis Business Assistance Fund that’s meant to “assist small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses entering the cannabis industry,” according to the legislation.
  • $5 million will go to a Cannabis Public Health Fund controlled by the state health department that could bankroll research.
  • $1.5 million will go toward the Criminal Justice Information System to fund automatic expungements of past simple possession offenses.

On the campaign trail, Moore vowed to “prioritize equitable access” to the cannabis industry as well as expunge the “records of anyone convicted of simple possession.”