Voters in the state of Maryland passed a referendum Tuesday that legalizes marijuana. 1,472,531 votes were tallied. 965,120 voted “yes” on the referendum.
Since neighboring states in the region have already legalized drugs and many polls indicate that Maryland was likely pass, it is the most probable of the five states voting on important drug policy reform issues during this midterm election.
The actual voting process in the referendum is straightforward. Voters were asked, “Do you support making recreational marijuana use legal in Maryland for people aged 21 and up on or after July 1st, 2023?”
Consistent polling shows a plurality in favor of legalization, and a recent survey found that a sizable proportion of people who normally wouldn’t vote did so once they learned that cannabis reform was on the ballot.
The campaign released an ad in the final days before the election to encourage young voters who are likely to favor the referendum to cast ballots.
Nearly three-quarters of Maryland voters, including a majority of Republicans, support legalizing marijuana. Most Republican voters supported the plan in a separate poll taken a week before the election.
There are provisions in a statute passed earlier this year that outline a liminal time beginning on January 1 and ending on July 1. For instance, from 1 January to 30 June, it will be a civil infraction to be in possession of more than the “personal use amount,” which is defined as up to 1.5 ounces. A maximum fine of $100 could be imposed on offenders. On July 1st, everyone over the age of 21 will be able to legally own 1.5 ounces according to FOXNews.
As of July 1, a person under the age of 21 who is in possession of a personal use amount will be guilty of a civil infraction punishable by a fine of $100.
Possession of more than 1.5 ounces but less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana is a civil infraction with a maximum fine of $250 as of January 1, regardless of age. Someone caught with more than 2.5 ounces of marijuana faces a misdemeanor charge and might spend up to six months in jail and/or pay a $1,000 fine.