Maryland legislature to consider voter referendum on legalizing marijuana for 2022 ballot

The Maryland legislature is moving toward placing a voter referendum on legalizing marijuana on ballots in 2022.

Text of the proposed legislation was written by Del. Luke Clippinger (D-Baltimore City), who is chairman of Maryland’s House Cannabis Referendum and Legalization Workgroup, formed last summer to study the issue.

The House bill to place the question on next year’s ballot, House Bill 1, has been pre-filed and will be introduced when the Maryland General Assembly convenes on Jan. 12, 2022.

If passed by the legislature, the bill will set up the following referendum question for voters:

“Do you favor the legalization of adult-use cannabis in Maryland?”

If the referendum is successful, Maryland’s legislature would add an amendment to the state constitution and advance a law allowing Maryland adults over the age of 21 to use and possess cannabis.

As written, that law that would go into effect as early as July 2023.

In order for the question to make it to the ballot, it will need to be approved by three-fifths of members in both the House and Senate.

If the bill passes, Maryland’s legislature would still need to develop rules on the “use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of cannabis within the state.”

Among those questions is what to do with the tax revenue that comes from the legalized sale of cannabis. One proposal has centered around using that money to help support communities that were negatively affected by the prosecution of drug crimes that are now considered minor.

A Goucher College survey last spring showed that, among 725 Maryland residents asked about legalizing marijuana, about 65% were in favor. The college said that was a bump compared to similar poll in 2019, when only 57% were in favor.

The key difference, according to Mileah Kromer of the Goucher’s Hughes Field Politics Center, is that support among Maryland Republicans reached 50% for the first time.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for USATODAY.com, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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