As of 2021, 18 states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis (adult use). In November of 2022, Maryland, by referendum, anticipates joining them. If the referendum passes, a bipartisan panel in the House of Delegates, already comprised and known as the House Cannabis Workgroup, will set to work on a comprehensive plan to implement adult-use cannabis legislation, as early as 2023. The legal framework will not only create a mechanism where businesses can thrive in a fast growing industry, but will also be aimed at combatting the racial inequities that have persisted due to the illegality of cannabis which disparately impact disenfranchised minority communities.
The comprehensive framework will be focused on:
- A regulatory body and a system for licensing as it relates to cannabis production, manufacturing, distribution, and sales;
- Cannabis education for safe and responsible consumption;
- Reduced sentences or acquittals for those incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses;
- Changes to existing criminal statute and traffic laws;
- The creation of social equity programs to compensate neighborhoods most impacted by the war on drugs; and
- The expansion of addiction treatment services.
Seemingly unfazed from the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic, the cannabis industry is flourishing with legal cannabis sales exceeding $17 Billion Dollars in 2020, up 46% from the previous year, according to BSD Analytics Inc. With two-thirds of Maryland residents supporting legalization of recreational cannabis, Maryland could soon join the industry, opening the door for a plethora of new business opportunities.
Be on the look-out for PK Law’s periodic updates regarding Maryland’s adult-use cannabis legislation and the progress of the House Cannabis Workgroup as more information becomes available.
Alexander Avakian is an Associate in the Firm’s Corporate and Real Estate Group. Prior to coming to PK Law, Mr. Avakian was an Associate in a California firm where he counseled clients in highly regulated industries, including the cannabis industry. He assisted clients with navigating issues related to regulatory compliance, entity formation and general business transactions.
Mr. Avakian can be reached at 410-938-8707 or email@example.com.
 More from Speaker, Adrienne A, Jones (D-Baltimore County) is available at https://www.marylandmatters.org/2021/09/09/house-panel-on-cannabis-legalization-begins-work-towards-an-equitable-industry/