Md. bill would legalize marijuana, expunge convictions

Marylanders may get the chance to vote in November on whether to legalize marijuana for adults’ recreational use.

A new bill in the Maryland House of Delegates specifies a framework of what legalization would entail.

House Bill 837, sponsored by Judiciary Committee Chair Luke Clippinger, a Democrat from Baltimore, was introduced Thursday, as a companion to House Bill 1, which would allow voters to vote in November whether to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over, effective July 1, 2023.

Clippinger said in a Baltimore Sun editorial that public sentiment about marijuana has shifted in the last decade, with more states legalizing recreational use.

Under Clippinger’s new bill, a person with a single conviction for simple possession would have that count automatically expunged from court records.

In addition, a person currently in prison or jail on a cannabis charge would be eligible to be resentenced, with the goal of ending the term behind bars.

Legalization of marijuana provides opportunities for business owners and the state, through taxation to profit financially.

Clippinger’s bill would create a Cannabis Business Assistance Fund, that would “assist those disproportionately impacted by marijuana laws and support business incubators, educational programs at HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) and more,” said House Speaker Adrienne Jones, in a statement, Maryland Matters reported. Jones said the fund would also require a disparity study to “identify barriers to entering the industry.”

According to Clippinger, “With this legislation, we will be prepared with comprehensive policy that creates the best, most equitable path to legal recreational cannabis should voters say yes.”

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up