ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Maryland Speaker of the House Adrienne Jones on Friday announced support to include a referendum to legalize cannabis on the 2022 General Election ballot.
She said the decision stems from the criminal justice disparities that stem from the criminalization of cannabis.READ MORE: Some Marylanders Plan To Take Precautions As COVID-19 Positivity Rate Rises Above 3 Percent
“While I have personal concerns about encouraging marijuana use, particularly among children and young adults, the disparate criminal justice impact leads me to believe that the voters should have a say in the future of legalization,” said Jones. “The House will pass legislation early next year to put this question before the voters but we need to start looking at changes needed to State law now.”
A Cannabis Workgroup chaired by House Judiciary Chairman Luke Clippinger has been created, should the ballot question be approved in November 2022.
The workgroup would design the implementation for legalized cannabis in the state and will have a particular focus on marijuana-related convictions and charges.READ MORE: Maryland Farmers' Market Week Kicks Off This Week
“Cannabis use has had a disparate impact on people of color for too long with no real impact on public safety,” said Clippinger. “This Workgroup will establish the legal frameworks necessary to fully implement the legalization of marijuana and learn from the mistakes that other states have made before us. The Speaker has been clear that we will do this with an eye toward equity and consideration to Black and brown neighborhoods and businesses historically impacted by cannabis use.”
The workgroup will begin meeting this fall, and the meetings will be live-streamed.
In the words of the Speaker’s Office, the workgroup would:MORE NEWS: Prayer Vigil To Be Held Monday For Two Children Found Dead In Car Trunk In Essex
- Determine the regulatory, licensing and oversight structure of the production, sale and possession of legalized cannabis, including licensing application process, number of licenses, and equity in ownership of marijuana facilities
- Address expungement of previous convictions for cannabis and determine changes to existing criminal laws related to cannabis
- Identify the structure for potential release of those convicted solely of marijuana-related crimes, as well as dismissal of pending marijuana charges
- Review existing criminal and traffic laws related to marijuana including paraphernalia and cannabis accessories
- Structure equitable ownership in cannabis-related businesses
- Construct social equity programs to compensate communities impacted by over-incarceration for marijuana-related crimes
- Craft a taxation structure and revenue distribution from cannabis proceeds
- Expand addiction treatment programs and healthcare support for substance abuse
- Determine the impact to medical cannabis programs, other collateral rights and licenses