ANNAPOLIS, MD.—On Friday, the Maryland House of Delegates took a crucial step towards legalizing recreational marijuana use, approving a measure that would allow adults to possess and grow cannabis in the state.
The bill, which was passed by a 103-32 vote, would allow those who are 21 and older to possess up to four ounces of marijuana and grow up to six plants inside their homes. It would also establish regulations for the growth, processing, and sale of marijuana, with an emphasis on advancing equity and providing opportunities for small businesses and those who have been negatively impacted by prior drug laws.
Supporters of the bill have touted the potential economic benefits of legalization. According to a fiscal estimate by the Maryland Department of Legislative Services, the state could earn up to $357 million in annual tax revenue by 2027 if the bill becomes law.
The House’s approval of the bill marks a significant milestone in the fight to decriminalize cannabis at the federal level. With more and more states legalizing marijuana use, pressure is mounting on Congress to reconsider its classification of the drug as a Schedule I substance.
If the bill is approved by the Maryland Senate and receives the governor’s signature, Maryland will become the first state in the Mid-Atlantic region to legalize recreational marijuana use. The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission has already begun preparing for the eventual rollout of a recreational marijuana program, which could begin as soon as July 1, regardless of the bill’s fate in the Senate.