In November 2022, over 60% of Maryland voters approved a legalization bill for recreational cannabis use, setting a market to begin July 1st after Governor Wes Moore signed the bill into law. The legislation establishes regulations regarding possession and cultivation limits for adults 21+, as well as limitations for medical marijuana (MMJ) patients.
It also creates a community reinvestment fund from tax revenue generated by the sale of legal cannabis, with the Cannabis Administration taking an active role in implementing the law effectively and equitably. Moore’s final approval comes two days after his administration announced he had created a blind trust, including about $1.2 million in stock for Chicago-based cannabis company Green Thumb Industries.
These developments create an opportunity for Marylanders to benefit economically and equitably from the cannabis market.
Maryland voters overwhelmingly showed their support for legal recreational cannabis use. The legislation passed with 67% approval, and Governor Moore was elected on the same ballot. This was a historic moment, as it marked the first time in U.S. history that an electorate voted to legalize adult-use marijuana sales via a popular vote. It also signals a shift in public opinion regarding cannabis, which many have viewed as taboo or even dangerous.
The bill signed by Governor Moore details regulations for the adult-use cannabis market in Maryland. According to the legislation, adults 21+ can possess up to one ounce of flower or five grams of concentrate and cultivate up to six plants at their residence, with any excess considered a felony. Medical marijuana patients will have more lenient possession and cultivation limits, with a maximum possession limit of two ounces and 12 plants allowed.
The tax revenue generated by legal sales will be reinvested into communities disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs through a Community Reinvestment Fund administered directly by Cannabis Administration staff. Additionally, the Cannabis Administration has created an Office of Minority Business and Economic Development (OMBED) to ensure specific social equity goals are met.
Before his election in November of 2020, Governor Moore held a position on the board of directors for Green Thumb Industries (GTI), one of the top cannabis companies in the U.S. GTI holds a dispensary license in Maryland under its RISE brand and is set to be a significant player in the new adult-use market.
Following his victory, Moore created a blind trust which included about $1.2 million worth of shares from GTI and other investments he had made before becoming governor. Per ethics laws, Moore has also diversified his blind trust to avoid any potential conflicts of interest regarding his role as leader of Maryland’s government.
This means that Moore could sell off his shares in GTI and other companies at any point – although it is unknown whether or when this will happen.
Maryland is now the latest state to join the growing recreational cannabis market. As of July 1st, adult-use marijuana sales will be officially legalized and regulated by the new law signed by Governor Moore. This has already led to increased investment and interest from cannabis companies across the country and a surge in job creation for local communities.
It also serves as an example of how public opinion can shape policy decisions locally, with citizens making their voices heard through the ballot box.
With recreational cannabis use now legal in Maryland, it could pave the way for other states to follow suit in changing laws surrounding marijuana. Only time will tell what effects this decision will have on Maryland and beyond.
Enjoyed that first hit? Come chill with us every week at the Friday Sesh for a freshly packed bowl of the week’s best cannabis news!