Maryland Lawmakers Make Big Play Toward Legalizing Marijuana
Maryland has been added to the list of states reviewing proposed cannabis legalization in 2018.
Medical use of marijuana is permitted in the Old Line State, with a limited number of dispensaries; no more than two per each of the state’s 47 legislative districts, according to The Baltimore Sun
However, recreational use of the substance is not currently permitted.
“What we’re trying to do is issue a constitutional amendment to the ballot,” said Joie Leigh of Charm City Cannabis Connoisseurs.
If passed, SB1039 would amend the Maryland constitution, to permit “subject to certain exceptions, an individual in the State who is at least 21 years old may under State law use cannabis” and “possess up to 1 ounce of cannabis,” according to the general assembly website.
Additionally, individuals would be permitted to grow up to six plants.
Once viewed as a taboo subject, societal opinions regarding marijuana use have continued to evolve over the years.
As more states choose to allow medical marijuana, non-medicinal use of the plant has become the next topic of discussion.
Moreover, it would appear that views on the subject don’t necessarily fall along party lines.
“Cannabis is the most nonpartisan issue when you’re dealing with the public. So when I’m talking to the public, yes, absolutely – right, left, middle, green party. If you’re in agreeance it doesn’t matter where you come from. Doesn’t matter your cultural background, doesn’t matter your political background. It’s either you agree with our right to choose and medicate or you don’t,” Leigh explained to The Western Journal.
“And as far as the political end, it’s hard to say…I just don’t see the Republicans getting on board with this, as much as I think they should. But again you’ve got some on the left that are in opposition, as well.”
“It really stands, in my mind anyway, as an absolutely nonpartisan issue,” she added.
One of the reasons for the decriminalization of cannabis is in response to the drug war.
According to Leigh, it’s the regulation of cannabis — not the plant itself — that destroys lives.
“I’ve watched my city over the past 30 years just crumble. Every day there’s a new vacant house. The riots obviously were not helpful to the economy.”
Leigh is a native of Baltimore, Maryland — a city noted for struggling with crime over the last several years.
“There’s a lot that needs to be done to Baltimore. And not just the city of course, that extends out. But I think the city is worse off right now.”
Not allowing the legal cultivation and sale of cannabis appears to have caused a black market for the substance, as with many others. Leigh asserts that drug dealers prey on children, convincing them to distribute marijuana.
“It introduces these kids into a life of crime.”
“These people are in such dire states that they get caught up in it,” she added. “And they got to do what they got to do to feed their family.”
What’s more, in addition to potentially removing black market crime in struggling communities, legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana could rake in substantial dollars to the state.
Indeed, evidence from other states would seem to support that claim.
A 2016 report from Fortune indicated that Colorado had collected “more than $150 million in taxes from legal marijuana sales, including nearly $50 million from a specific excise tax that directs funds to school construction projects,” through October of that year.
The prospects of Maryland’s law changing during the 2018 legislative session is still up in the air, but according to Leigh, she’s had positive feedback from her local representatives.
“I have meetings with just the Frederick County delegates because that’s my home county right now. It was nice to see Frederick — as far as their government — is completely behind this measure. They see what it can do. They welcome the dispensaries.”
If the legalization measure is passed, Maryland would join a growing list of states.
According to Newsweek as of October 2017, Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and the District of Columbia had all past laws regarding recreational use.
However, regardless of state laws, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.
Caterine DeCicco is The Western Journal’s Washington D.C. video producer.
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