US (MD): Senators delay vote on cannabis legalization ballot bill

Maryland senators on Wednesday took up a House-passed bill to put cannabis legalization on the state’s November ballot—but the committee couldn’t reach a consensus and decided to delay a vote so members can sort out their concerns.

The inaction in the Senate Finance Committee comes a day after members amended and passed a complementary bill to set up rules for the program if voters ultimately approve the reform. But those rules would be rendered redundant if lawmakers fail to pass the ballot bill.

Tuesday’s hearing involved complex legislating, as the panel had three bills on the agenda: Two that recently cleared the House and a separate Senate measure that would have created more specific regulations for an adult-use market pending voter approval of a legalization referendum.

Members did not vote on HB 1, the ballot question bill, at Tuesday’s meeting; rather, they focused on revising the regulations legislation, SB 833, from Sen. Brian Feldman (D). The panel effectively replaced the original language of the Senate bill with much of HB 837, which is much more limited in scope and primarily concerns penalties and expungements issues. The Senate legislation was also amended to incorporate provisions of other cannabis bills that have been introduced this session.

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