By Emily Ledger
Maryland could become yet another US state to opt for the legalisation of recreational cannabis following an announcement from the state’s House Speaker in support of a referendum in 2022.
According to the Washington Informer, Adrienne Jones, the Democratic leader and House Speaker from Baltimore, Maryland, revealed on Friday that she would support a motion to allow voters to decide on cannabis policy in the state. Medical cannabis is already legal in Maryland, following the introduction of a state law in 2013.
In a statement, House Speaker Adrienne J0nes said: “While I have 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.”
She continued: “While I have 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 Democrat House leader has also highlighted plans to create a bipartisan group that would develop details of potential legislation relating to the regulation, production, and supply of legal cannabis products for recreational use.
The work group will be made up of 11 lawmakers – eight Democrats and three Republicans – and will start meeting on the development of legislation later this year. Democrat State Delegate, Luke Clippinger has been appointed to chair the work group, as well as the House Judiciary Committee.
In a statement, Clippinger commented: “Cannabis use has had a disparate impact on people of colour for too long with no real impact on public safety.”
“The Speaker has been clear that we will do this with an eye toward equity and consideration to black and brown neighbourhoods and businesses historically impacted by cannabis use.”
The draft legislation, which may eventually be voted upon by Maryland citizens, would legalise the recreational use of cannabis and, in addition, address the potential expungement of past cannabis convictions, and develop structures and guidelines for the ownership of cannabis-related businesses.
Over a third of Americans now live in a state where recreational cannabis is legal. Furthermore, a recent poll revealed that two-thirds of US citizens believe that the drug should be legalised.
Recreational cannabis is now legal in 18 states, in addition to Washington D.C. and various US territories. A total of 37 states have now developed a medical cannabis sector for the treatment of a variety of conditions.
Last week, Democrat Senators, including the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, unveiled their federal decriminalisation and de-scheduling bill, titled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, to address cannabis reforms at the federal level.