A top Maryland lawmaker on Friday pledged that lawmakers will pass a bill to put the question of marijuana legalization before voters as a referendum on the 2022 ballot. And she’s formed a cannabis working group to assess the best way to structure the reform.
House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) said that while she has “personal concerns about encouraging marijuana use, particularly among children and young adults, the disparate criminal justice impact leads me to believe that the voters should have a say in the future of legalization.”
“The House will pass legislation early next year to put this question before the voters but we need to start looking at changes needed to State law now,” she said in a press release.
To that end, Jones has appointed a 10-member working group to study a range of issues related to legalizing and regulating cannabis.
Legalization legislation did begin to move through the legislature this session, but no votes were ultimately held.
The Senate Finance Committee held a hearing in March on a legalization bill sponsored by top lawmakers, including the body’s president, majority leader and key committee chairs. That followed a House Judiciary Committee hearing on a separate cannabis proposal in February.
“Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational cannabis for adult-use. Maryland must do the same and a large majority of Marylanders in both political parties support an equitable framework that immediately addresses the injustices in our current criminal justice system,” Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) said in reaction to Jones’s announcement on Friday.
“In 2019, I co-chaired the General Assembly’s workgroup to study this issue and we identified the key decision points and models for legalization in Maryland,” he added. “The Senate continues to be ready to move a fair, just, and equitable program forward,