Colorado and Washington have successfully done it—created legal marijuana systems where adults can purchase pot and tax revenue goes to the state. They’ve done it so well, their tourism industry is up as people flock from across the country to buy marijuana without fear of arrest.
Is Maryland ready for the same kind of system? A bill to legalize marijuana for all adults was introduced this week, but many say the state won’t end prohibition any time soon.
“It’s going to happen,” said Senate President Mike Miller. “I’m not advocating it, but it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen in my lifetime.”
Miller isn’t the only one who feels like legalization is inevitable. But getting the right political climate and the right bill on the table will prove crucial in when marijuana prohibition ends.
The proposed bill, from Baltimore City Delegate Curt Anderson, would legalize recreational pot for people ages 21 and over. It would also allow adults to grow up to three of their own marijuana plants.
“The whole point of my bill is to put the street dealers out of business by putting some of these cartels out of business, having the state of Maryland realize the income, the tax revenue from it,” explained Anderson to Fox Baltimore. He believes the state could collect “tens of millions” of dollars annually from a well-constructed legal marijuana system.
The Governor has already taken a vocal stance of opposition on the bill, as has the Speaker of the House Michael Busch. Further, Maryland has not even been able to get a medical marijuana program off the ground. These are signs that the newly introduced bill won’t be successful. A similar bill was proposed late in 2013 but never got off the ground.
Still, there are plenty of supporters who are ready to end criminal charges for possession marijuana.
“Sixty percent of the profits made by drug dealers out there today come from marijuana sales,” said Neill Franklin, of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Putting these dealers out of business seems to be a top selling point. That and potential profits for the state.
“We say let’s have the government regulate it, tax it. We can raise more than $100 million a year. We’ll stop wasting law enforcement resources,” said Sen. Jamie Raskin (D) Montgomery County.
Marijuana Policy Project is taking a lead role in pushing for support of legalization, contributing to campaigns and lobbying for the cause. Though they may sway some who are on the fence, it’s not likely they’ll be able to gain enough support within the coming months.