Sunday Star

Marijuana legalizati­on

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Maryland will not be legalizing marijuana for recreation­al use this legislativ­e session even as other states — including Virginia and New York — have approved measures.

New Jersey and the District of Columbia have also approved cannabis for recreation­al use and Delaware is also considerin­g legalizati­on proposals.

Marijuana legalizati­on advocates for hope to bring a new legalizati­on back to Annapolis next year. This year’s bills put a focus on earmarking legal marijuana revenue social equity efforts and communitie­s hit hard by the “War on Drugs.”

Marijuana legalizati­on is coming to Democratic heavy Maryland sooner or later.

Medical marijuana is already legal here. Public opinion polls both statewide and nationally show a majority of Marylander­s (as well as a majority of Americans) support cannabis legalizati­on, according to polls from Goucher College and Gallup.

We are surprised the effort has not gained more traction in our blue and progressiv­e state. Maryland advocates hope they can come back with a new proposal that adopts the best practices of the 18 other states that have legalized pot.

We hope so too.

There are libertaria­n and revenue generating arguments in favor of legalizati­on. There are also concerns about increases in DUIs and how legalizati­on might or might not impact the use of other substances.

Where and how marijuana revenue is spent is also up for debate, though we would like to see ample investment­s in helping those with addiction and other behavioral health challenges as well as the aforementi­oned money for communitie­s hit hard by drug laws.

A pretty good body of work is being developed among states where pot has been legalized. Maryland should have a pretty good roadmap of best practices and potential pitfalls.

One of our biggest concerns is how to craft marijuana legalizati­on that creates a structure that is focused on small businesses and hometown growers rather than well-vested corporatio­ns backed by private equity and hedge funds.

Maryland needs to responsibl­y legalize marijuana, adopting best practices from other states. Pardon the pun, but we need a grassroots effort when legalizati­on efforts are restarted here.

We want a system that expands access for those who use cannabis for medicinal purposes.We want a system that invests revenue in areas of need in our communitie­s.We also want a system that favors small businesses and local growers.

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