The trend in many states is in the direction of reduced penalties for the use of marijuana. Toward this end, a majority of states allow either medicinal or recreational marijuana use without any legal consequences.
Maryland now shows a few signs of contributing to this pattern.
Legalization of marijuana proposed in Maryland
The Baltimore Sun reports that sponsors introduced a bill in 2021 that would legalize recreational marijuana use in Maryland. Referred to as the cannabis bill, HB32 would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The bill would also contain expungement provisions for those already charged with some marijuana crimes. Advocates of the legislation say the bill would address issues of social inequity and racial injustice.
One of the bill’s sponsors stated that its passage would have several positive benefits: make the drugs safer, create jobs, help small businesses and bring in added tax revenue. Maryland legalized the use of medicinal cannabis in 2014. Initially, the cost to the state would increase to support and regulate a legal recreational marijuana industry.
Relaxation of cannabis laws across the U.S.
Esquire states that as of 2021 recreational marijuana use is legal in 15 states. At the end of 2020 alone, four states joined the growing list of states relaxing penalties against personal marijuana use: Arizona, New Jersey, Montana and South Dakota. New York, Florida and Ohio look like good candidates to pass legalization legislation in 2021.
Still, many areas of the country resist efforts to legalize marijuana. So far, efforts on the federal level for broad drug reform and the expungement of past convictions remain unrealized.