“Maryland is ready to move forward with this and I look forward to its hearing,” the Senate president said.
By Hannah Gaskill, Maryland Matters
Senate Finance Committee Vice-Chair Brian J. Feldman (D) has filed legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis and pump funding into communities that have been adversely impacted by its current criminalization.
The bill has a powerful set of cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Nancy J. King (D), Budget and Taxation Chair Guy J. Guzzone (D), Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair William C. Smith Jr (D) and Vice-Chair Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher (D).
He also has Senate President Bill Ferguson (D).
In a phone interview with Maryland Matters, Feldman described the bill plainly: “It’s a cannabis legalization bill that would tax and regulate cannabis sales,” he said.
But it does a lot more than decriminalize: several measures in the bill look to address socio-economic and criminal justice inequities experienced in Black and Brown communities.
Under Feldman’s legislation, businesses in the state’s existing medical cannabis industry would pay fees into a social equity fund to be used for low-interest loans for minority business owners to enter the industry.
Additionally, a portion of the tax revenue from the newly legalized field would be fed into a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund, which would provide housing assistance, scholarship aid, re-entry programs and other services in communities that have been adversely impacted by mass incarceration and racism relating to the state’s current criminalization laws.
The Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund would also aid people formerly incarcerated for petty cannabis charges in applying for expungements.
“There’s no doubt that legalization of adult-use cannabis is a complex issue,” said Ferguson. “We need to make certain that economic benefits are equitably distributed and criminal justice reform is incorporated.”
“Maryland is ready to move forward with this and I look forward to