ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) – Maryland House spokeswoman Adrienne Jones announced on Friday that a referendum to legalize cannabis would be included in the ballot for the 2022 general election.
She said the decision stemmed from the criminal law differences that result from the criminalization of cannabis.
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“While I have personal concerns about encouraging marijuana use, especially among children and young adults, the different effects on the criminal justice system make me believe that voters should have a say in the future of legalization,” said Jones. “The House of Representatives will pass a law early next year to put this question to the electorate, but we must start now to look into the necessary changes to the state law.”
A cannabis working group, chaired by the President of the Justice of the House of Representatives Luke Clippinger, has been set up should the poll question be approved in November 2022.
The working group would design the implementation for legalized cannabis in the state, with a special focus on convictions and charges related to marijuana.
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“Cannabis use has had different effects on people with color for too long without real public safety implications,” said Clippinger. “This working group will create the legal framework necessary to fully implement the legalization of marijuana and to learn from the mistakes that other states have made before us. The speaker has made it clear that we will do this with a view to equity and consideration for black and brown neighborhoods and businesses that have historically been affected by cannabis use. “
The working group will meet this autumn and the meetings will be broadcast live.
In the words of the spokesperson, the working group would:
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- Determine the regulatory, licensing, and oversight structure of the production, sale, and possession of legalized cannabis, including the license application process, number of licenses, and percentage of ownership of marijuana facilities
- Address the waiver of previous convictions for cannabis and identify changes to existing criminal law related to cannabis
- Identify the structure for the possible release of those convicted of marijuana-only crimes, as well as the discharge of pending marijuana charges
- Review existing criminal and traffic laws regarding marijuana, including paraphernalia and cannabis accessories
- Structure of fair ownership in cannabis-related businesses
- Build social justice programs to compensate communities affected by over-custody for marijuana crimes
- Create a tax structure and an income distribution from cannabis proceeds
- Expand addiction treatment programs and medical assistance for substance abuse
- Determine the implications for medical cannabis programs, other ancillary rights, and licenses