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Maryland Governor Won’t Block Legalization if Passed by Voters |

Maryland’s voters will decide whether recreational marijuana use should be legalized for adults. 

Lawmakers there earlier this month passed “a pair of bills setting a November referendum on whether the state should legalize the possession, personal use, and home cultivation of small amounts of marijuana,” the website DCist reported.

Maryland is facing a proposal that has been tackled by increasing numbers of other states in the last decade. It would allow adults aged 21 and older “to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, with anything between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces subject to a civil fine of $250 and anything above 2.5 ounces subject to a charge of possession with an intent to distribute,” according to DCist

And it would establish a social justice framework for those previously convicted of pot-related offenses “to seek an expungement of their records and petition for immediate release if they are incarcerated,” the website said. 

However, it would not create a regulation system for the retail sale of recreational pot. 

Another hurdle in the way of legislation was removed last week by Larry Hogan, Maryland’s Republican Governor, who chose not to sign them. 

That means that should voters approve the referendum in November, the new law will take effect without the governor’s signature. 

Hogan was notably hesitant about legalizing cannabis. Hogan has been notably cagey on the issue of cannabis legalization. Washington Post reported earlier this month, “Hogan has never taken a public position” on the matter of recreational pot, and he has not “said how he would vote on November’s referendum that would legalize cannabis.”

The following is the Baltimore Sun, Hogan has “previously said he would prefer a referendum to legislators acting directly.”

Although some legislators had reservations about the final proposal, advocates praised the possibility of legalization in Maryland.

“Marylanders have long awaited a new approach to cannabis policy and the passage of these bills is a promising step forward. We applaud this legislature’s decisive act to end prohibition on cannabis, which is both long overdued and well supported by most constituents. We look forward to working with Maryland legislators on this issue moving forward,” said Olivia Naugle, senior policy analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project, as quoted by DCist.

There is good reason for those same advocates to feel bullish on the referendum’s chances in November. 

According to a poll, 62% of Maryland’s voters supported legalizing recreational marijuana use. Only 34% opposed ending prohibition.

Goucher College found that legalization does better than the Democrat currently residing inside the White House, President Joe Biden. Maryland won the 2020 election by 30 points more than Donald Trump.

Only 48% of Maryland voters surveyed said that they supported the work Biden does as president. 47% disagreed. 

Those numbers may underscore the political benefit of legalization, particularly for an embattled Democratic party entering this year’s midterm elections.

In early 2021, the party was elected to power amid hope from legalization supporters that federal prohibition might finally end. 

These hopes were further bolstered by the passage of a House of Representatives bill that would have legalized cannabis at the federal level. 

The legislation now moves to the Democratic-controlled Senate, where leaders have said they hope to produce their own version of a bill by the end of this month.