ANNAPOLIS (WJZ) -- Marijuana legalization could be on the November ballot in Maryland as lawmakers debate a referendum bill.
House Bill 1 would establish the ballot referendum to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use, effective July 1, 2023. Currently, medicinal marijuana use is legal in Maryland.
"It's more important that we get it done right than we get it done quickly," Del. Eric Luedtke of Montgomery County said.
Luedtke and other lawmakers said in a Judiciary Committee hearing Monday that legalization is an economic opportunity for the state and local, minority-owned companies.
"They're vices. I don't like them. If we're going to do them, let's do them right and fairly," said Del. C.T. Wilson of Charles County.
A companion bill, HB 837, would regulate the industry and allow for expungement of certain marijuana possession convictions.
"This could be very life-changing for many people, in particular, those who have been convicted of…various marijuana charges," said Del. Charlotte Crutchfield of Montgomery County.
Many advocates said amendments need to allow for home cultivation and sharing. Bill sponsors said many of those issues could be addressed after voters approve the measure.
A Goucher College poll released last March showed increasing support for marijuana legalization in Maryland, with two-thirds of Marylanders in favor.
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