The Maryland House is currently considering Maryland House Bill 1264 (the “Bill”) that, if passed, would offer voters this November the chance to pass a ballot initiative amending the state constitution to legalize the recreational possession, use, and cultivation of cannabis by adults. The Bill would permit possession of up to one ounce of marijuana (or five grams in concentrated form), allow cultivation of up to six cannabis plants and allow the transfer of up to five grams of cannabis to another adult. The Bill would also allow individual municipalities to decide whether to allow cannabis consumption centers, and it would prevent a residential landlord to prohibit the consumption of cannabis on its premises by any means other than smoking.

If passed, the General Assembly and Comptroller would be responsible for establishing a regulatory scheme for the commercial production and distribution of cannabis under a system that licenses, regulates, and taxes cannabis businesses. The Bill would require the Comptroller to issue temporary licenses to current medical cannabis businesses to cultivate, process, and sell cannabis for recreational uses while a recreational regulatory scheme is being established. If the Comptroller fails to do so by June 1, 2019, medical cannabis businesses would be allowed to do so on a temporary basis without such license without being subject to penalty. If either the General Assembly or the Comptroller fails to enact laws and regulations by December 31, 2019, the Bill would provide Maryland citizens with a cause of action to compel them to do so.

If both chambers of the legislature approve the Bill with a 60 percent majority vote, the proposed amendment will appear as a ballot initiative this November and must then be approved by a majority of voters to pass.

By: John McGowan, Meredith Kinner and Andrew Gargano