(The Center Square) – The fate of an effort to legalize cannabis for adults over 21 is in the hands of Maryland voters.

With voting underway and polls opening at 7 a.m. and closing at 8 p.m. Tuesday, voters will decide the fate of a legislatively referred constitutional amendment with “yes” or “no” votes on Question 4.

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The question on the ballot reads, “Do you favor the legalization of cannabis by an individual who is at least 21 years of age on or after July 1, 2023, in the State of Maryland?”

The ballot referendum needs a simple majority to pass. A “yes” vote would support legalizing cannabis on July 1, 2023, while at the same time directing the General Assembly to pass laws for the use, distribution, regulation, and taxation of cannabis. A “no” vote would keep current laws in place.

The question came about as Delegate Luke Clippinger, D-Baltimore County, issued House Bill 1 and House Bill 837 during the 2022 session, as previously reported by The Center Square.

HB 0001, as proposed, called for constitutional amendment by way of a referendum question, while HB 837 outlined cannabis reform by way of a baseline study that would examine a range of related issues.

“We don’t want people to drive impaired,” Clippinger said during a March hearing. “That’s been a huge issue of people in the House. We must ensure that police officer can properly investigate those times when people are driving under the influence of cannabis.”

Maryland has a robust medical marijuana program enacted in 2013. And in 2014, the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana was decriminalized. However, nationally, Maryland has three of the top 10 counties with the highest possession arrests rates.

Two polls conducted in September show Maryland residents are in favor of legalizing cannabis. A Goucher College poll showed 59% of residents were in favor, 34% were against, and 7% were undecided. A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll showed 73% support legalization, 23% oppose legalization, and 4% are undecided.

Brent Addleman

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers...

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