Voters will decide on Election Day whether to approve a referendum legalizing marijuana possession by adults.
Lawmakers on Friday gave final approval to the proposed Constitutional Amendment, House Bill 1, which asks voters: “Do you favor the legalization of adult–use cannabis in the State of Maryland?” Recent statewide polls find that between 62 and 70 percent of Marylanders support legalizing cannabis.
“Maryland voters of all political persuasions agree that it is time to end the failed practice of targeting, prosecuting, and stigmatizing adults who possess and use cannabis,” NORML’s Deputy Director Paul Armentano said. “Just like voters have done elsewhere over the past decade, Marylanders will choose in favor of legalization at the ballot box and they will do so overwhelmingly.”
State lawmakers also approved complimentary legislation, HB 837, which defines marijuana possession limits and facilitates the automatic review and expungement of past criminal records. That bill awaits approval from Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.
If approved by voters, the referendum takes effect on July 1, 2023. At that time, adults will be legally permitted to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis and/or 12 grams of cannabis concentrates. Possessing amounts between 1.5 ounces and 2.5 ounces would be subject to civil fines, while the possession of greater quantities would be subject to existing criminal penalties.
Lawmakers would still need to enact additional legislation next session to establish rules and regulations governing a legally regulated cannabis marketplace.
Eighteen states and Washington, DC no longer impose criminal penalties for adults’ possession and use of marijuana.