Maryland’s Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Thursday on a bill that would legalize and regulate marijuana in a way similar to alcohol.
Senate Bill 928, filed by Senator Richard Madaleno Jr., would legalize the possession and personal cultivation of cannabis, while establishing a licensed and regulated system of cannabis retail outlets and cultivation centers. Prior charges for cannabis that were made legal by the bill would be expunged for those who were 21 and older at the time of conviction.
“I’m a retired narcotics officer and Maryland native, and I support regulating marijuana for adult use because it will make our state safer,” says Major Neill Franklin (Ret.), executive director of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, who plans to testify at the hearing Thursday. “Decriminalizing marijuana took the crime out of possessing it, but it did not address the criminal element associated with production and sales. Maryland’s prohibition system is keeping dangerous illegal growers and dealers in business. Adopting a tightly regulated system of licensed cultivators and sellers will weaken criminals who endanger our children, communities, and police officers.”
According Dr. Fernando Wagner, a public health researcher and professor at the Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy who will also testify at Thursday’s hearing, says; “Cannabis is less addictive than alcohol and many other drugs… From a public health perspective, allowing adults to purchase cannabis in a regulated market would be far better than forcing them to buy it in an illicit market.”
Wagner continues; “The claim that marijuana is a ‘gateway drug’ to opioids and other prescription medicines is not supported by scientific research. In fact, there have been promising studies that indicate making cannabis legally available can help people reduce their use of opioids. This potential benefit is deserving of serious consideration at a time when our state is facing an opioid crisis.”
The hearing is planned to start at 1pm ET at Miller Senate Office Building (2 East Wing, 11 Bladen St., Annapolis).