Maryland’s House of Delegates Passes Bill Outlining Recreational Cannabis Marketplace with Emphasis on Minority Business Ownership

Maryland’s House of Delegates passed a bill on Friday that sets the stage for the state’s recreational cannabis marketplace. The bill will now head to the Senate for further review. The legislation includes various initiatives aimed at promoting business opportunities for communities that have been negatively impacted by the criminalization of marijuana.

The state’s voters approved a constitutional amendment in November, which sets July 1 as the date when recreational cannabis becomes legal for individuals 21 and over in Maryland. The bill outlines the regulations and rules for the marketplace, and its primary objective is to create opportunities for business ownership among communities that have suffered the most from the marijuana prohibition era.

Del. C.T. Wilson and Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, the bill’s co-sponsors, prioritized entrepreneurs with connections to communities where marijuana enforcement has been historically aggressive when it comes to granting cannabis licenses. Wilson said that their goal is to reduce arrests and stop people from getting pulled over by the police.

Wilson and Atterbeary included provisions to help minorities to start cannabis businesses. In addition, businesses with licenses to sell medical marijuana will have priority when it comes to granting licenses for recreational cannabis.

The bill also establishes an Office of Social Equity and an Attorney General to identify communities that were disproportionately affected by the war on drugs. The individuals living there will receive priority when it comes to granting licenses.

Wilson believes that the Senate will support the bill’s essential provisions to help minority communities. However, he is keeping a close eye on possible changes to the sales tax of cannabis products. According to Wilson, low taxes mean lower costs, making these businesses more competitive and driving more people to purchase from legitimate sources.

The issue will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee on March 16th. With this legislation, Maryland joins other states that have legalized recreational cannabis, including Colorado, California, and Washington. However, Maryland’s bill stands out for its focus on promoting minority-owned businesses, which could serve as a model for other states seeking to legalize marijuana while also promoting social justice. (Source)

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