US (MD): Lawmakers officially put cannabis legalization on the ballot

Maryland voters will get the chance to decide on legalizing cannabis following approval of a constitutional amendment in the legislature on Friday that puts the question of reform on the November ballot. Separate legislation to lay out initial rules for the program if voters opt to end cannabis criminalization was also passed by both chamber of the legislature and sent to Gov. Larry Hogan (R).

This development comes after weeks of back-and-forth debate between the House of Delegates and Senate on three separate cannabis bills, with a number of amendments being adopted along the way.

On the House side, there was HB 1 and HB 837 from Del. Luke Clippinger (D), who chairs the Judiciary Committee and led a legislative cannabis workgroup formed by House Speaker Adrienne Jones (D).

The former bill would simply place legalization on the ballot, though it was amended in the Senate to include language specifying for voters that legalization would not be enacted until July 2023 and clarifying that only those 21 and older could access the market. The House Judiciary Committee concurred with the amended version and sent it back to the floor on Friday. It passed the full chamber in a 94-39 vote.

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