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Maryland Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Legalize Marijuana

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new approach to the question of legalizing marijuana in Maryland: Let the voters decide.

Supporters of a plan to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol in the state want to put the question on the 2018 ballot.

This year, you'll see a two-pronged approach to legalizing marijuana in Maryland. One by way of the lawmakers, while the other is by the voters.

"Now is the time to join other states and move towards a sensible system of regulation and taxation," said Montgomery County Senator Richard Madaleno.

Under the lawmakers' plan, the state would collect $30 an ounce excise tax from the cultivators and a 9 percent sales tax from buyers.

Half of the revenue is earmarked for schools, 25 percent for treatment, and the rest for workforce development and public education.

Adults 21 or older could lawfully possess up to an ounce and grow up to six plants, while prior convictions for possession of those amounts would be expunged.

"We know from data, not just anecdotal, but statistical data, that a majority of Marylanders are ready to vote for this," said Delegate Curt Anderson (D).

It would require a constitutional amendment to put legalizing marijuana on the ballot.

"It is a higher threshold to do a constitutional amendment to put this to the voters," said Delegate David Moon (D).

Supporters are counting on a win - one way or the other.

The state has yet to implement the medical marijuana program approved in 2013.

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