PRESS RELEASE: Maryland General Assembly Schedules Hearings for Cannabis Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: ALFRED DAWSON (214) 384-1732
KRIS FURNISH (720) 607-8369

February 18, 2019

Maryland General Assembly Schedules Hearings for Cannabis Bills

Bills Being Heard Would Allow Police To Obtain Free Medical Cannabis And Tax, Regulate And Legalize Adult Use

ANNAPOLIS, MD USA — The hearings for SB0383 and SB0771 in the Maryland Senate will take place on February 26th, 2019 at 12 P.M. noon at the James Senate Office Building in Annapolis, MD. Senate Bill 0383, introduced by Senator Cheryl Kagan, (D-17) would allow law enforcement to obtain medical cannabis at no cost, not be subject to arrest or punishment under certain circumstances, and also grants many other benefits to law enforcement obtaining and using medical cannabis for the purpose of establishing a program to study the effects of intoxication as it relates to impaired driving. SB0383 provides advantages to law enforcement without preferential treatment to our nation’s veterans, that have been negatively affected by the war on drugs, and would still be subject to arrest for the possession of cannabis under Maryland state law even if this bill passes.

“If we are doing this for police officers, then why can’t we do the same for our veterans, who continue to take their lives at a rate of twenty two a day due to suffering from illnesses such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and chronic pain?” said Kris Furnish of Maryland Marijuana Justice, (MDMJ). MDMJ assisted in facilitating and organizing the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition “Lobby Day 2019” on February, 5th. Furnish adds, “We can’t continue to arrest people and just let the police have free cannabis, we need our delegates to change the law now.”

SB0771, introduced by Senator Will Smith (D-20) would legalize, tax and regulate the adult use and cultivation of cannabis in April of 2020. While this bill allows for the cultivation of up to 4 plants by an individual over the age of 21, there are very precise restrictions surrounding the visibility of cannabis plants in a cultivators residence. These provisions do not allow for plants to be publicly visible, and also require that the plants be locked and not accessible to persons under the age of 21, but does not include any exemptions or exceptions for medical youth patients. Although these bills enact more regulations regarding cannabis, the specific guidelines within them have potential to continue the injustices we have seen perpetuated by the failed war on drugs.

“We want to make sure that the counties aren’t shafted by the tax revenue generated from legalization” said Alfred Dawson of MDMJ. Mr. Dawson adds, “Our representatives know that this issue is important to their constituents, and with the right laws in place, everyone can benefit”. In addition to the two bills in the Senate, members of MDMJ, Maryland NORML and others united under the banner of the Maryland Cannabis Policy Coalition raised awareness of two bills in the Maryland House of delegates that also pertain to the legalization, taxation, and regulation of cannabis.

HB0632 introduced by Delegate David Moon (D-20) would amend the Maryland State constitution to put the question of legalizing marijuana on the November 2020 Presidential election ballot. While this bill allows for the most democratic approach to legalization, it also has the potential for voter suppression or other factors to negatively influence the results. The alternative approach is HB0656 introduced by Delegate Eric Luedtke, (D-17) the jointly related bill to SB0771, which would enact full scale legalization of cannabis in April of 2020, but also has to be approved by a super majority in both houses of the General Assembly (85 votes) in order to avoid veto by incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan, who has openly opposed the legalization of cannabis for adult use. The hearings for the two House bills will take place at the Maryland House of Delegates Chamber on March 6th at 1 PM.

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Maryland Marijuana Justice is an organization dedicated to fighting for cannabis users, growers and their families in the free state.

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