Last Tuesday, Maryland was among five states where ballots contained measures related to marijuana legalization. As anticipated by many analysts, Marylanders opted to approve the initiative, which prevailed by a mammoth margin of 66.3% to 33.7%.
The constitutional amendment will legalize recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and older and permit the possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, or two plants.
The measure will also extend clemency to former offenders with marijuana-related convictions on their records. Specifically, it will expunge the records of Marylanders who have been previously convicted of either possessing marijuana or displaying an intent to distribute it. Those who are currently incarcerated for past cannabis-related infractions will become eligible to petition for resentencing.
Additionally, the new amendment grants the state's General Assembly the authority to determine a tax rate applicable to the sale of marijuana.
The law will go into effect on July 1st, 2023. Subsequently, possession of between 1.5 and 2.5 ounces will elicit a fine of up to $250, whereas possession of more than 2.5 ounces will be punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 or up to six months in jail.
The measure will allow Marylanders to grow cannabis on their own property, granted that the plants are concealed from public view and that individuals grow no more than two plants at a time.
Although pro-legalization advocates have rapturously celebrated this outcome, the future of marijuana sales in the state remains unclear. As of now, the sale of marijuana without a legitimate license will continue to be prohibited. According to the Washington Post, illicit sales will be "classified as a misdemeanor and punishable by up to three years or a fine of up to $5,000."
And to the dismay of legalization proponents, smoking cannabis in public will also remain forbidden, warranting a fine of up to $250.
Given that recreational marijuana has now been legalized in 21 states as well as D.C., pro-legalization activists have beatifically welcomed recent inroads toward further decriminalization.