You are here
Home > News > Maryland Voter-Approved Legalization Measure Takes Shape in New Year

Maryland Voter-Approved Legalization Measure Takes Shape in New Year

Maryland is still years away from launching its new legal cannabis market. But, it’s still the beginning of a post-prohibition period in the mid-Atlantic.

Maryland voters overwhelmingly approved the November ballot initiative, which will legalize marijuana for adult use in Maryland and create a controlled retail cannabis market. 

Per local news station WJLA, although “recreational marijuana won’t be fully legal until July 1, as of now possession of up to 1.5 ounces is no longer a crime”; instead, according to the station, “It’s a civil violation carrying a $100 fine.”

“For amounts up to 2.5 ounces the fine is $250,” the station reported.

However, the law change will immediately affect the criminal justice system. 

According to WJLA, Marylanders with a cannabis-related conviction on their criminal record on will have it automatically be expunged by July 1, 2024, but they do not have to wait that long.

“You can go to the Maryland Courts website and apply for an expungement without any help from an attorney. They even have instructional videos,” the station said.

WJLA continued: “There is also very good news for those currently locked up for cannabis-related crimes. As long as that is the only crime for which they’re serving a sentence, they can immediately ask for resentencing and a judge must resentence to time served and they must be released.”

Maryland’s voters approved Question 4 in November. This makes it the most recent state to lift the ban on marijuana use. 

The “Yes on 4” campaign was bankrolled by Trulieve, a major cannabis company with a significant presence in Maryland’s existing medical cannabis market. 

Eugene Monroe was also a Baltimore Ravens former player and served as the campaign’s chair. 

“Tonight voters in Maryland made history by bringing the era of failed marijuana prohibition to an end,” Monroe said in a statement following its passage in November, as quoted by the Associated Press. “For decades, the unequally enforced criminalization of cannabis in Maryland inflicted damage upon Black and Brown communities. We must turn the page on that disturbing history by centering Maryland’s legal marijuana market around racial equity. The legalization of cannabis in Maryland will provide good paying jobs and open doors to small-business owners. It also generates new tax revenue. Legislators in Maryland have a responsibility to ensure people in historically underserved communities are able to enjoy those benefits.”

A series of positive polls were a precursor to the success of Question 4.

One of the releases was made by University of Maryland, and it was out in October. The Washington PostMore than 70% of voters voted for cannabis legalization.

“The thing that stood out to me is the high level of support and the diversity of support. Whether you look across party, region, almost every characteristic, you see majorities supporting this,” said Michael Hanmer, the director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement, as quoted by The Washington Post. “That’s been the trend across the country. People have really shifted their views across time on this issue, all pointing in the direction of being more supportive.”

The “Yes on 4” campaign has been optimistic about the new law’s potential economic benefits for the state, projecting that legalization could “provide the state with over $135 million in tax revenue.” 

“That figure does not include city and county revenue or the savings from the millions of dollars Maryland spends each year enforcing marijuana possession laws. Maryland Question 4 will allow local law enforcements to concentrate their limited resources on fighting violent crime. Of the ten counties in the United States with the highest rates of marijuana possession arrests, Maryland is home to three of them,” the campaign said on its website.