Maryland on July 1 officially legalized the recreational use of cannabis.
Marylanders 21 or older can legally purchase and possess cannabis for recreational use. Police are also no longer allowed to search a vehicle or person solely on the odor of cannabis.
Maryland is the 23rd state to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, along with D.C. and three U.S. territories.
“Today, Maryland takes a significant step forward in rectifying past injustices,” Maryland Attorney General Anthony Brown said in a press release. “In legalizing cannabis, we are abandoning a failed criminal justice policy that perpetuated the over-policing, over-arrest, and over-incarceration of too many Marylanders, particularly Black and brown people.”
Dispensaries in the state saw record sales following the legalization, with the Maryland Cannabis Administration reporting $10.4 million in sales the following weekend.
Cannabis was legalized for medical use in Maryland in 2013, with decriminalization of possession of 10 grams or less coming in 2014. Virginia legalized recreational use of cannabis in 2021.
Possession of cannabis is legal in D.C., however there are restrictions on the sale of products, as its use is still illegal federally. Cannabis in D.C. operates under a gifting economy, where distributors exchange cannabis as a gift with the purchase of other goods such as art prints and stickers.
While smoking cannabis in Maryland is still illegal in public places, the new laws allow those incarcerated for cannabis possession or use to be re-sentenced.
Maryland in 2010 had the fifth highest arrest rate for cannabis possession in the country with cannabis arrests that year making up almost half of all Maryland’s drug possession arrests. Black people were almost three times more likely than white people to be arrested for cannabis possession.
“Marylanders overwhelmingly support this initiative, and it’s my commitment to honor the will of the people,” Brown said. “The cannabis industry that we stand up today must be rooted in fairness and equity. This means expunging the records of those targeted in the enforcement of cannabis laws, ensuring fair and equitable access to cannabis licensing and other business opportunities, and empowering disproportionately impacted communities through reinvestment.”
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Washington Blade: LGBTQ News, Politics, LGBTQ Rights, Gay News