Two marijuana legalization bills are scheduled to be debated by lawmakers in Annapolis in the coming weeks, and there is an outside chance we could see legalization at least a year sooner than once thought. The bill we will discuss in the article is currently scheduled for debate in the Senate during the first week in March. Senate Bill 708 is a lengthy one, with tons of provisions that would only apply to government agencies and those who may become involved in the marijuana business. The wordy bill boils down to a few major points for actual consumers and all other concerned citizens in the state of Maryland. First off, the bill would decriminalize the personal use of marijuana. You can’t start selling it to consumers if it’s still illegal, so the lawmakers in this bill have selected 4 ounces of flower cannabis, 15 grams of concentrates and 6 plants as their arbitrary cut off number. These limits are more generous than previous attempts at legalization, but still maintain an aura of control. It’s almost as if the government is still in our ears saying “alright that’s enough, take it down a notch”. A person would be able to walk around with a quarter pound of pot, but anymore would be a no no.
There are other provisions in the bill as well that would apply to the average Marylander, including easy access to expunge prior marijuana cases and strict measures to assure that individuals who are under the age of 21 are not being provided marijuana. Homeowners and renters would also be permitted to grow their own marijuana provided there are certain safety measures in place to assure the grow operation is both private and secure. Without a doubt the most compelling parts of the wordy bill are the provisions that discuss the retail sale of marijuana. The bill does not simply come out and say marijuana will be legalized, but rather inconspicuously creates the existence of marijuana retailers. These “retailers” are defined as an entity licensed to purchase cannabis from a grower and sell it to a consumer. Consumers are not patients, so this is an entirely different animal than medical cannabis. This is the legalized sale of marijuana for recreational use, and it’s coming sooner rather than later.
After the bombshell about establishing marijuana retailers, the bill goes on and on about the tax provisions and the social equity policies designed to promote and support small business owners. The tax issue is always a back and forth debate, but in the end the tax number will likely keep the price of retail marijuana just under the price on the street. After all, it makes no sense to price retailers out of the market, especially when a widely stated goal of legalization is to end the illicit sale of pot. Anyone who is interested in entering the market may be wise to read the bill, but all others should probably wait until the bill progresses further down the legislative process. There are bound to be more changes on the horizon. The Blog will continue to follow marijuana legalization efforts in Maryland and Florida, and will post a follow up article as more news comes out of Annapolis. If you have been charged with a drug offense such as possession not marijuana, possession with intent to distribute, manufacturing or any other offense contact criminal defense lawyer Benjamin Herbst anytime for a free consultation. Benjamin specializes in drug charges, gun charges, domestic violence defense, theft, robbery and DUI, and is available anytime at 410-207-2598. Benjamin is also an experienced South Florida criminal defense lawyer who represents clients in criminal and personal injury cases such as weapons crimes, drug offenses and car accident cases in all state jurisdictions from Miami to Port St. Lucie. Contact Benjamin at 954-543-0305 for a free consultation about your Florida case.