Colorado did it. Washington did it. Alaska and Oregon are doing it. And residents of the District of Columbia are trying to do it, although federal lawmakers are thwarting their efforts. The ‘it’ here is “legalize recreational marijuana.”
Now a handful of Democratic Maryland lawmakers have introduced legislation that seeks to do the same. Senate Bill 531 would also establish the following:
- Specified exemptions “from prosecution for specified persons for using, obtaining, purchasing, transporting, or possessing marijuana under specified circumstances.”
- Exemptions “from prosecution for specified retailers, marijuana product manufacturers, marijuana cultivation facilities, and safety compliance facilities under specified circumstances.”
- “A specified affirmative defense.”
Potential tax revenue is very much part of the legalization legislation that has passed in other states, and Maryland is no different. SB 531 proposes a $50-per-ounce excise tax on marijuana flowers and a $10-per-ounce excise tax on marijuana leaves. Alternatively, the excise tax would be “an amount that the Comptroller may set that adjusts the initial rate for inflation or deflation based on the Consumer Price Index.”
Medical marijuana was legalized in Maryland in 2013 and recreational pot was partially decriminalized last fall. People caught possessing fewer than 10 grams are no longer threatened with prison, only with a citation and fine.
SB 531 has been assigned to Judicial Proceedings and Budget and Taxation.