‘We’re doing it responsibly’: Gov. Moore on Maryland recreational weed legalization

On July 1, Maryland will become the first jurisdiction in the D.C. region where adults 21 and older can buy weed for recreational use from a legal retail market.

During a sit-down interview with WTOP’s DMV Download podcast, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said making recreational cannabis legal and creating a functioning market is what people wanted.

“I’m just glad I didn’t have to run against cannabis because their margin was a lot bigger than ours,” Moore said. “The people spoke pretty loudly.”

During the 2022 elections, 67% of Maryland voters supported the legalization of cannabis for people aged 21 and older — beating out Moore’s margin of victory by three points.

While recreational cannabis is legal in both D.C. and Virginia, no legal retail market has been established in either jurisdiction. In D.C., residents use an arcane “gifting” process that skirts federal law barring the city from creating a retail market.

Moore applauded Maryland’s method of simultaneously legalizing recreational weed and creating a market. He said Maryland has learned from the mistakes of other states.

“I’ve seen examples around the country where when you saw delays in opening up the market,” Moore said. “What ends up happening is the black market completely reentered and ended up taking on [and] sucking out all the oxygen. So, it actually caused a lot of problems when it came to the recreational rollout.”

But for Moore, it’s not just about creating a reasonable, functioning and legal cannabis market — one that’s currently valued at $500 million. He said July 1 is also about equity.

“We have seen how the war on drugs has had a disproportionate impact on low income communities, communities of color,” Moore said. “We need to make sure that this recreational basis is going to have a disproportionately positive impact on communities that have been harmed so significantly by it.”

Despite the widespread support for weed legalization, Maryland’s governor said concern still remains.

“I had someone ask me the other day, ‘What impact is this going to have on kids?'” Moore said. “My answer was nothing, because this is adult use. For children and for people under the age of 21, this is going to have no influence at all.”

Moore said that over the coming days and months, his administration is going to focus on educating residents about what these laws mean.

“We’re going to add Maryland to the list of the now-almost three dozen states that have moved to do this, but we’re going to make sure we’re doing it responsibly, and we’re going to make sure that the people of Maryland understand what’s happening,” Moore said.

To hear the full conversation with Gov. Wes Moore, tune into the DMV Download podcast on Wednesday.

Luke Garrett

Luke Garrett is a D.C. native dedicated to journalism. He is a reporter and the creator, host and producer of the original WTOP podcast, “DMV Download.” The podcast debuted in 2022. On the show, Garrett takes a weekly look at the biggest stories and ideas in the D.C. region.

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