With lawmakers in Maryland preparing to consider marijuana legalization during next year’s legislative session, this week a lead proponent in the House of Delegates unveiled an early outline of what the state’s legal cannabis system could look like.
Del. Jazz Lewis (D), who prefiled the legalization bill, shared a draft of the legislation with Marijuana Moment on Tuesday. While his office said it’s “still working on the bill” and that “things are subject to change,” Lewis’s current plan would legalize and regulate the cannabis, allow for sales by state-licensed businesses, expunge past convictions and establish a social equity program meant to reinvest in communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.
In a statement to Marijuana Moment, Lewis said he introduced the legislation, HB0032, “because we have the data and popular opinion on our side to end prohibition.”
It is time that Maryland has a reasonable and responsible cannabis policy, and that means legalization. The prohibition on the responsible use of cannabis has done exponentially more harm than good, and has devastated communities with a heavy-handed and unfair drug policy. pic.twitter.com/p5PddQgzjt
— Delegate Jazz Lewis (@JazzforMaryland) December 22, 2020
“States that have legalized have seen a decline in teen usage due to disruptions of the illicit market,” Lewis said. “Law enforcement has mostly stated they would rather go after actual criminals than young people who shouldn’t be involved with the justice system.”
“We can and should do better,” the lawmaker continued. “We allow for the expungement of records, creating social equity businesses to include minorities and the formerly incarcerated, and we dedicate resources to revitalizing disconnected communities. The time for restoring communities and ending prohibition is now.”
The bill’s language wasn’t previously available to the public even though Lewis pre-filed it in October, according to a representative from