Maryland Senate President Backs New Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Bill
Maryland Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Brian Feldman (D-Montgomery) has introduced a new adult-use cannabis legalization bill that is backed by Senate President Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore City), according to a Maryland Matters report.
The bill, S.B. 708, is also co-sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery), Budget and Taxation Chair Guy J. Guzzone (D-Howard), Judicial Proceedings Committee Chair William C. Smith Jr. (D-Montgomery) and Vice Chair Jeffrey D. Waldstreicher (D-Montgomery).
The legislation would not only legalize adult-use cannabis and tax and regulate its sale, but would also direct funding to communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition, Maryland Matters reported.
Maryland’s existing medical cannabis businesses would be required to pay fees into a social equity fund, which would be used for low-interest loans to help minority businesses participate in the industry, according to the news outlet.
In addition, the legislation earmarks a portion of the tax revenue generated from adult-use sales to a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund, which would provide housing assistance, scholarship aid, re-entry programs and other programs in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, Maryland Matters reported.
Del. Jazz Lewis has sponsored another comprehensive legalization bill, H.B. 32, in that chamber, and while the two pieces of legislation share many similarities, they do differ slightly, according to Maryland Matters.
Feldman’s bill would decriminalize the possession of up to 4 ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and older, while Lewis’ bill would decriminalize only 2 ounces, the news outlet reported.
When it comes to taxation, Feldman’s legislation would levy an initial 10% excise tax on adult-use cannabis, which would gradually increase to 20% by 2027. Lewis’ bill, on the other hand, calls for a flat 20% excise tax, Maryland Matters reported.
Both bills have been referred to committee.