US (MD): Senators raise questions about house-passed legalization bills

A Maryland Senate committee on Wednesday took up a pair of House-passed bills to put cannabis legalization on the state’s November ballot and set initial rules if voters approve the reform, with some lawmakers raising concerns about the limited scope of the implementation proposal and questioning why the ballot question doesn’t contain more specific language around issues like licensing and equity.

The Senate Finance Committee held the hearing on HB 1 and HB 837, both sponsored by Del. Luke Clippinger (D), about a month after they cleared the opposite chamber.

The meeting also took place days after a key Maryland House committee advanced a Senate-approved budget bill, adding new amendments that would allocate tens of millions of dollars in funding to implement cannabis legalization with the expectation that the reform will ultimately be enacted this year.

Clippinger is the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which reported the bills out favorably last month before sending them to the floor. He also led a cannabis workgroup that House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D) formed last summer to study the issue.

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