Cover image via
Nearly two-thirds of Maryland voters want the right to buy legal weed in their home state, according to a new poll conducted by Goucher College.
Earlier this month, Goucher asked 635 Marylanders to share their opinions on the economy, politics, crime, and legal weed. Out of all the questions on the poll, marijuana turned out to be one of the most popular topics. A solid 62% of respondents said that they supported full recreational cannabis legalization in Maryland, including 65% of Democrats and independents and even 54% of Republicans.
In contrast, only 48% of respondents said they approved of the way that President Biden is handling his role as the nation's leader. Meanwhile, 55% of Marylanders said that they felt like “things in the state are heading in the right direction,” and 52% said that the state's economy was “mostly positive.” Sixty-five percent of respondents approved of Gov. Larry Hogan (R), though, beating support for adult-use legalization by 3%.
Maryland voters may actually get a chance to put their support for legal weed into practice, thanks to a new bill approved by the state House of Delegates last month. This bill would place an adult-use legalization referendum on this year's election ballot. If a majority of voters said yes to the question, state lawmakers would be bound to legalize cannabis sales and use for adults. The House also passed a separate bill that would establish criminal justice reforms for current and former pot offenders.
Things are moving slower in the state Senate. The state's upper chamber is also considering a version of the legalization referendum bill, but this version would create a more comprehensive regulatory system than its House counterpart. At a press conference earlier this month, Senate President Bill Ferguson (D) said that the ballot bill “wouldn’t be [his] first choice,” Marijuana Moment reports.
Instead, Ferguson is advocating for a second bill that would cut through the red tape and just legalize weed directly. However, he did indicate that he would be more open to the ballot alternative if lawmakers clarified the details of these bills. “Are we protecting public health?” he asked at the conference. “Are we making sure that we are ending the war on drugs, which has been absolutely devastating to communities, and doing it in a way that if an industry moves forward, that there is an equitable opportunity to participate in the marketplace?”
Lawmakers have until April 11, the end of this year's legislative session, to come to a consensus on the matter. If the legislative legalization bill is approved, cannabis could become legal in Maryland by the end of 2022. The ballot measures, if approved, would not take effect until July 2023, however. But regardless of which bill lawmakers choose to endorse, Gov. Hogan would still need to sign it into law, and he has not indicated whether or not he will do so.
Despite the complications, Ferguson is confident that politicians can figure out a way to legalize cannabis before the year is done. And according to the new poll, it's clear that a majority of Marylanders are ready and willing to show their support for legal weed.