Maryland lawmakers have proposed regulations to govern the state’s forthcoming adult-use cannabis market after voters approved Question 4 in the November election.
Members of the state’s House and Senate introduced bills Feb. 3 to create a regulatory framework for licensing, taxation, social equity and more ahead of the July 1 start date for adult-use sales, according to the Royal Examiner.
The legislation is the result of several Cannabis Referendum & Legalization Work Group meetings, which included lawmakers from several committees, the news outlet reported.
“I feel very good about the bill,” Senate President Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore City, said during a Feb. 3 press conference, according to the Royal Examiner. “I think it is possible to be a national model.”
The legislation divides cannabis business licenses into several categories. A standard license allows for growing or processing cannabis, or operating a dispensary; the state plans to issue 300 dispensary licenses, 75 cultivation licenses and 100 processing licenses, the Royal Examiner reported.
Micro licenses allow for smaller operators to grow and process cannabis or operate a delivery service without a brick-and-mortar storefront. The state plans to issue 200 of these licenses for dispensaries, 100 for cultivators and 100 for processors, according to the news outlet.
Ten incubator space licenses will be available to allow licensees to house micro license holders, and 50 on-site consumption licenses will be available, the Royal Examiner reported.
The application fee for a five-year standard, incubator or on-site consumption license is set at $5,000, according to the news outlet, while the fee for a micro license is $1,000.
The legislation breaks the licensing process into several rounds, and the first round of applications for all license types will be reserved for those that qualify as “social equity applicants,” according to the news outlet.
Social equity will be determined by location under the legislation, which allows applicants to qualify if they have lived in a disproportionately impacted jurisdiction for at least five of the last 10 years or have attended school in one of those jurisdictions, the Royal Examiner reported.
The legislation also allows those with previous cannabis-related convictions to participate in the legal market, according to the news outlet. It also allows Maryland’s current medical cannabis licensees to pay a fee to convert to a full-service license that permits them to serve the adult-use market.
Lawmakers set a 6% tax on cannabis that will increase to 10% after five years, the Royal Examiner reported, and the legislation bars counties from imposing their own local taxes on cannabis.
Thirty percent of the tax revenue generated will be reinvested in communities most negatively impacted by the war on drugs, according to the news outlet.
A hearing on the legislation is expected in the coming weeks, the Royal Examiner reported, and lawmakers plan to piece together additional details, including expungement provisions.