Mar 8, 2023 - Politics

Maryland gets moving on weed

Illustration of a cannabis leaf made of money.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Maryland lawmakers are on track to pass a bill within the next month that would prop up the state’s legal marijuana market by this summer.

Why it matters: Maryland, D.C., and Virginia all allow recreational cannabis use for adults. But the bill would make Maryland the first in the region to have an actual recreational market.

Catch up quick: Maryland voters last year approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, and this legislation would actually implement a retail market on July 1.

How it works: The bill, introduced in both chambers of the Maryland legislature, would create a licensing system for sales and establish regulatory agencies, including testing labs, to oversee the retail market.

  • It would cap the number of available licenses to 75 growers, 300 dispensaries, and 200 delivery services. It would also create “micro-licenses,” which would let sellers and growers operate in small spaces with smaller batches.
  • There would also be some licenses available for on-site consumption, which would let patrons buy and use cannabis products at places like restaurants or cafes.

The legislation would create a social equity office aimed at promoting retailers from marginalized communities. Some revenues from the taxes on sales would go toward a grant program to support these businesses.

Of note: Maryland already allows medical dispensaries; those would pay a fee to become medical and recreational dispensaries when the market is up and running. New businesses would be able to get approved then, too.

What they’re saying: Maryland Senate president Bill Ferguson told reporters last month that the state’s market could serve as a model for other states that want to legalize a recreational market.

What we’re watching: The Assembly is set to vote on the bill by the end of the week. It will then head to the Senate, likely with some amendments but no significant changes, Ferguson’s office tells Axios.

  • Governor Wes Moore's office tells Axios he supports the legislation.

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