2022 Election Preview: Maryland Appears Poised to Legalize Cannabis

State lawmakers certified the cannabis legalization measure in August, and recent data indicates voters largely approve and may just be weeks away from passing legalization.

Legal cannabis could soon be a reality in Maryland.  

The state’s voters will have their say on adult-use cannabis legalization this November after Secretary of State John Wobensmith certified the measure for Maryland’s ballot in August. That certification came after the state House and Senate approved a constitutional amendment via House Bill 1 in April.  

The measure, which will appear on voters’ November ballots, will appear as Question 4 and asks: “Do you favor the legalization of the use of cannabis by an individual who is at least 21 years of age on or after July 1, 2023, in the State of Maryland?” 

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Maryland registered voters approve of cannabis legalization while 23% disapprove and 4% have no opinion, according to a recent poll from The Washington Post and the University of Maryland. 

Separately, the state’s General Assembly passed House Bill 837 in April, which allows adults 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, 12 grams of concentrate, 750 milligrams of delta-9 THC or two plants for personal use. H.B. 837 also decriminalizes possession of up to 2.5 ounces as a civil offense opposed to a misdemeanor. The Senate passed the bill by a 30-15 vote and the House passed it by an 89-41 vote. 

If Question 4 is approved on this November’s ballot, H.B. 837 would go into effect and state lawmakers would determine additional specific market parameters—including licensing and taxes—for Maryland’s cannabis industry.  

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) allowed both the amendment to H.B. 1 and the legal framework of H.B. 837 to become law without his signature, according to The Washington Post. Hogan, who assumed office in 2015, is not running for re-election this November due to term limits. 

© Maryland.gov

Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), who serves as chairman of the House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup, introduced both H.B. 1 and its companion bill, H.B. 837, in January.

H.B. 1 passed the Senate by a 29-17 margin—just barely reaching the 29 votes needed to pass—with all 15 Republicans voting no. H.B. 1 then passed the House by a 94-39 margin, with all but one Republican voting no. 

Before advancing H.B. 837 earlier this year, Clippinger wrote in a Feb. 3 guest column for The Baltimore Sun: “Too many people have already suffered the consequences of a misguided war on drugs. House Bill 837, together with House Bill 1, is a rapid but responsible approach to legal recreational cannabis.” 

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