Marijuana Plants

Legislative proposals that seek to legalize the adult-use cannabis market have advanced in several states in recent days.

In Delaware, House lawmakers recently moved HB 305: the Delaware Marijuana Control Act, to the floor. The bill permits adults to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana and establishes a framework for licensed businesses to commercially cultivate cannabis and engage in retail sales. It awaits a vote from the full chamber, where it will require a 60 percent super-majority in order to advance to the Senate. Similar legislation stalled last year. If advanced by the House, it would still need super-majority support from the Senate, and it could face resistance from Democratic Gov. John Carney, who has been noncommittal on the subject.

In Maryland, members of the state’s House of Delegates have given preliminary approval to a pair of legalization bills. The first, House Bill 1, would let voters decide on whether to legalize cannabis possession and sales via a binding referendum question on the November ballot. Statewide polling from October finds that Maryland residents support such a plan by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. A second bill, HB 837, is also expected to be advanced. It compliments HB 1 by setting up a limited framework for legalization, establishing personal possession limits, and providing for the expungement of past convictions, among other issues.

Finally, in South Dakota, Senate members narrowly advanced legislation, SB 3 — which seeks to allow for the personal possession and retail sale of marijuana. The measure now awaits action from the House, which recently rejected similar legislation by a vote of 36 to 31. In November 2020, the majority of South Dakota voters decided in favor of a citizen-initiated measure (Constitutional Amendment A) legalizing the adult-use possession and sale of cannabis. However, shortly following the vote, Republican Gov. Kristi Noem facilitated litigation seeking to strike down the law as unconstitutional. In December, Justices on the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled 4 to 1 that the amendment “violated the single subject requirement in the South Dakota Constitution.”

To take action on these bills and to support marijuana reform legislation in other states, visit NORML’s ‘Take Action Center.’

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