Maryland voters passed a ballot measure on Tuesday night to legalize cannabis for adult use.
Adult use cannabis legalization was on the ballot, as Cannabis Wire reported, in Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, and South Dakota, too. Maryland was the first state to be called in favor of legalization.
The other campaigns were run by advocates and industry stakeholders. Of the $20 million these campaigns raised, almost all of it went to Arkansas and Missouri, and a majority of it from cannabis companies that would explicitly benefit, as Cannabis Wire reported.
A total of 19 states and D.C. legalized cannabis for adult use before Election Day. Now, it will be closer to half the country. (Also, ten years ago this month voters in Colorado and Washington made their states the first jurisdictions in the world to legalize cannabis for adult use. Read Cannabis Wire’s anniversary series on lessons learned.)
In Maryland, it was the legislature who decided to put legalization before voters in the form of Question 4. (A similar scenario unfolded in New Jersey in 2020, as Cannabis Wire reported at the time. New Jersey voters, of course, ultimately legalized.) It asked: “Do you favor the legalization of the use of cannabis by an individual who is at least 21 years of age on or after July 1, 2023, in the State of Maryland?”
As Cannabis Wire recently reported, lawmakers already passed a bill that will take effect now that voters said “yes.” HB 837 includes language around expungement and personal possession, and the creation of a Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund, for example, but lawmakers still have to craft regulations for sales. Of the five adult use efforts, it lays the groundwork for the most equity-focused approach.
Also, Wes Moore was elected governor on Election Day, making the Democrat the first Black governor of Maryland. Moore praised Pres. Joe Biden’s announcement on federal cannabis pardons and supports the taxation and regulation of cannabis sales for adults.
Maryland lawmakers had tried to pass legalization by legislature before putting it to voters, as Cannabis Wire previously reported.