Marylanders to decide on recreational marijuana at ballot box

 

MARYLAND – When Marylanders hit the polls this election, they will vote on whether or not to legalize adult-use recreational marijuana. If passed, the measure would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years of age and older, beginning in July 2023. The Maryland General Assembly would be required to pass laws for the use, distribution, and taxation of marijuana.

Economic Impacts

Those in Maryland’s medical marijuana industry say legalizing recreational marijuana could bring job creation, as well as large amounts of tax revenue.

“There’s been a lot of job creation and career development. We really focus on the fact that we’re not giving people jobs, we’re giving them career paths,” said Wendy Bronfein, Chief Brand Officer and Director of Public Policy for Curio Wellness. “I think most people would like to see [tax revenue] go towards the education system here in Maryland.”

Equity and Health

Bronfein says if the measure is passed by voters, it could also open up pathways toward making the criminal justice system more equitable.

“There are large populations of people, Black and Brown, who have been persecuted by the creation of the war on drugs. This kind of takes steps to alleviate those issues,” said Bronfein.

Expanding therapeutic options for patients using marijuana could also be expanded, according to Bronfein.

“For those patients who are out there, that are not currently in the [medical] program, but would be interested in the therapeutics it can officer, I think it would greatly increase the accessibility,” said Bronfein. “For those that are currently using cannabis in a therapeutic way and not obtaining it in a legal way, that really helps ensure the safety and quality of the products that they would receive.”

Safety

As the possibility of legal recreational marijuana use nears with Election Day, local law enforcement says they are closely monitoring the results.

“We have to look at, first and foremost, the safety of our residents. Our concern is that if this is passed, there will be an increase in DUI-related events,” said Worcester County Sheriff Matt Crisafulli. “In just assessing other states that have pass the legalization for recreational use, there’s an uptick in motor vehicle crashes in some of those states.”

Sheriff Crisafulli adds that he worries about the potential of and increase in adolescent use. However, he acknowledges that marijuana is often accessible to young people, whether it is legal or not.

“If that was legalized, there would still always be a black market because of the economics behind it. So, we’re going to continue to assess other states and see what type of issues that they’re dealing with,” said Sheriff Crisafulli. “We’ll adapt to our traffic enforcement efforts, and patrol-related functions to ensure the safety of all of our residents and visitors.”

However, Bronfein says Maryland’s existing medical marijuana program proves that cannabis can be used in safe, and responsible ways.

“Most metrics from others states that have existing programs show that there should not necessarily be an increase in adolescent use,” said Bronfein. “We can’t protect everyone. We have to raise people who make good choices and keep things that don’t belong in the hands of children away from children. Everything today that we have is child-resistant packaging by virtue of our regulations. The safety, security, and quality of the products, I don’t think, is an issue. I think the overarching social issue is one that Marylanders are ready for.”

Categories: Election 2022, Local News, Maryland, MD Election, MD Election 2022