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Maryland's recreational marijuana reform bill gets initial passage in House of Delegates

Behind the scenes at the Curio Wellness cannabis grow facility.
Kaitlin Newman/The Baltimore Banner
Behind the scenes at the Curio Wellness cannabis grow facility.

The bill regulating the licensing and sale of recreational marijuana jumped a major hurdle today by passing an initial vote in the House of Delegates.

The bill sets up the recreational marijuana marketplace in Maryland.
The Senate Finance Committee will consider its version of the bill tomorrow.

The House will conduct a final, largely pro forma vote, on the bill later this week.

“This legislation regulates cannabis as a business, not as a criminal activity and provides a safe product for medical patients and adults,” House bill sponsor Del. C.T. Wilson, a Charles County Democrat, said on the floor.

The bill sets standards for how marijuana will be sold, regulated, grown and processed in Maryland. It also lays out how commercial licenses will be allocated and creates a fund to help minority-owned businesses.

As it stands, cannabis is legal on a state-by-state basis, but still illegal across state lines on a federal level.

The proposed sales tax on recreational marijuana will not exceed 6%, but may increase up to 10% by 2028, according to the bill.

The Maryland legislation affords licenses for 75 growers, 100 processors and 300 dispensaries for recreational marijuana.

It also creates more “micro-licenses” for small, boutique enterprises that operate under different rules. Micro-growers, for instance, can’t operate in a space larger than 10,000 square feet and will not be able to produce more than 1,000 pounds a year.

The bill also allows for on-site consumption spaces, something many other states don’t permit.

There will be 15 licenses dispensed for those spaces, which allow people to consume pot in a communal setting like a café.

Several amendments were added to the bill between the committee process and its passage.

One amendment ensures that 1.5% of revenues will go back to the counties for behavioral health and drug treatment programs.

Another requires licensed growers to adopt minimum standards to protect the rights of growers and employees regarding pay and grievances by July 2024.

Scott is the Health Reporter for WYPR. @smaucionewypr
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