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Maryland Lawmakers Want Marijuana Initiative on Ballot in 2018

New legislation could put the issue on the ballot in 2018.

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Maryland lawmakers have devised a clever scheme to put the issue of recreational marijuana in the hands of the voters in 2018.

According to a report from the Baltimore Sun, some legislation is on the verge of being introduced in the state legislature aimed at putting the question of a taxed and regulated cannabis market on the ballot in next year’s general election. The goal of this attempt is to bring down the scourge of prohibition across the state by giving adults 21 and over the freedom to purchase marijuana in the same fashion as they presently do alcohol.

Some of the latest polls indicate that 64 percent of Maryland’s voter support full legalization. It is for this reason that some lawmakers want to present the issue to the people in an effort to keep it from getting jammed up in the legislative process – potentially putting the state in a position to capitalize on the herb in the same way as eight other states.

“This legislation will effectively end the failed policy of cannabis prohibition in Maryland and replace it with a much more sensible system,” Senator Richard S. Madaleno Jr., vice-chair of the Senate Budget and Tax Committee, said in a statement. “It establishes a thoughtful regulatory scheme and tax structure based on best practices and lessons learned from other states.”

There is some resistance to marijuana legalization in the General Assembly, but most political forces have absolutely no problem with allowing the voters to decide via referendum. Yet, some Republicans have expressed concerns about whether the issue should take precedence in the current session.

Nevertheless, Senator Madaleno Jr., Senator William C. Smith Jr., Delegate David Moon, and Delegate Mary Washington plan to introduce the bill this week in an effort to get the balling rolling.

“A strong and growing majority of Marylanders support ending cannabis prohibition,” Delegate Moon said in a statement. “Rather than lagging behind our constituents, we need to get behind them and pass this legislation this year. Several states are now effectively regulating and taxing cannabis, and it is time for Maryland to join them.”

The proposed measure actually includes two bills — one aimed at handling regulatory affairs and another geared toward taxation. Overall, the proposal would legalize the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana for adults 21 and over. It also comes with a provision designed to expunge the records of those people previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes.