Bill Would Regulate and Tax Marijuana Like Alcohol; Establish Legal Market For Adults 21 And Older
Delegate Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City) on Thursday introduced a bill in the Maryland House of Delegates that would make marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and establish a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed like alcohol.
In summary, HB 1453:
· Removes criminal penalties for private possession and home-growing of limited amounts of marijuana by adults 21 and older;
· Directs the Maryland Comptroller to license marijuana retail stores, wholesale facilities, and testing facilities;
· Enacts an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales, proceeds from which will be used to offset implementation of the act and fund treatment programs to prevent alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse;
· Directs the Maryland Department of Agriculture to regulate the cultivation, processing, and distribution of industrial hemp; and
· Allows localities to regulate marijuana businesses.
It would remain illegal to use marijuana in public or drive under the influence of marijuana.
“Most Americans now recognize that marijuana prohibition has been just as spectacular a failure as alcohol prohibition,” said Dan Riffle, deputy director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “It is time for a new, more sensible approach to marijuana in Maryland, and that is what this bill proposes.”
“Our public policies should be based on the facts, and it is a fact that marijuana is far safer than alcohol,” Riffle said. “Adults should not be made criminals simply for choosing to use the less harmful product. Our law enforcement efforts should be focused on preventing and investigating serious crimes and not on arresting and prosecuting responsible adult marijuana consumers.”
“Marijuana sales are currently taking place in an underground market where they benefit criminals and drug cartels,” Riffle said. “Under the law proposed by Del. Anderson, marijuana sales would take place in tightly regulated businesses that are creating jobs and paying taxes that will benefit Maryland citizens.
“We hope legislators will agree that it is time to once again make prohibition a thing of the past,” Riffle said.
Last November, voters in Colorado and Washington State approved measures making marijuana legal for adults 21 and older and directing state regulatory bodies to create regulations for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults.
Bills to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol have also been introduced this year in the Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire state legislatures, and lawmakers in Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Vermont are expected to bring forward similar legislation.