On Tuesday, the matter of decriminalizing cannabis in Maryland had its first commission hearing, with legislators considering a reform to regulate recreational marijuana and allocate substantial amounts of industry tax proceeds for measures aimed at communities that were adversely hit by the failed Drug War.
Delegate Jazz Lewis, the advocate of HB32, said during the House Judiciary Commission hearing that the reform ends the state’s failed regulation of marijuana prohibition and swaps it with a system that regulates and tests MJ for 21 and older adults.
Lewis added that the reform takes cannabis sales and production from the streets and provides labeled, regulated, and lab-tested commodities while offering a plethora of new employment opportunities, business, and several millions of dollars from yearly tax proceeds to serve the society.
Although the House Commission heard over two hours of debate and testimony on the reform during Tuesday’s hearing, they didn’t come to a consensus on whether to approve the bill or not.
HB 32 is among two cannabis legalization initiatives tabled before Maryland legislators in 2021. SB 708 is another reform launched by Brian Feldman, Senate Finance Committee Deputy Chair, and co-sponsored by top-tier Senate Democrats such as the body’s majority leader and president. The reform is scheduled for hearing by a Senate Commission on 4th March.
When filing the policy in December, Lewis said that he unveiled the measure since the state has the information and public view on its side to terminate prohibition.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Jazz announced changes meant to fine polish his bill with the Senate legislature. Two of the biggest amendments include decreased taxes and reducing the maximum number of cannabis retail permits, from 200-100.
Lewis noted that the biggest disparity between the two reforms is that House Bill 32 would permit federal regulators to provide unlimited microbusiness permits irrespective of the limits on large and small business licenses. He added that difference is important to private dispensaries to thrive in competing against vertically-aligned ventures.