Maryland Governor Approves Bills on Cannabis Reform, Abortion Protection, Gender-Affirming Treatment

Maryland Governor Wes Moore signed six new bills into law on Wednesday, CBS News reports. The bills, in a win for social liberals across the state and country, collectively cover protections for gender-affirming health care, abortion, and cannabis reform. Let’s start by reviewing the cannabis legislation. 

Back in November, Maryland voters approved an amendment to the state’s constitution to allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis legally. 67% of adults voted in favor of the bill, which creates the licensing and tax rates. The tax rate for adult use in Maryland will be 9%.

Legalization is always wonderful, considering it means fewer people in prison. However, looking at mass legal cannabis exoduses from other states such as California, thanks to the red tape, expenses, and hurdles of setting up legally, such bills also admittingly make one think that sometimes the industry legal cannabis helps the most is the black market. 

Recreational cannabis sets up shop in Maryland starting on July 1. The existing medical cannabis dispensaries will receive dual licenses to enter the adult-use market. In addition, in an effort to make amends for the racist casualties of the War on Drugs, priority for additional recreational licenses will be given to minority business owners in communities that have been negatively affected by past marijuana laws. As data from the ACLU shows, despite equal usage rates, Black people are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana. “This will ensure the rollout of recreational cannabis in our state drives opportunity in an equitable way,” Gov. Moore said. “The criminalization of marijuana harmed low-income communities and communities of color in a profound way. We want to make sure the legalization of marijuana lifts those communities now in a profound way.”

Earlier this week, Gov. Moore shut down concerns about his conflicts of interest. He had roughly $1.2 million of stock in a cannabis company, which was transferred into a blind trust managed by Brown Investment Advisory & Trust Company and approved by The State Ethics Commission last week.

Regarding the other bills signed into effect, two measures intend to expand access to affordable health insurance. One will automatically enroll folks into Medicaid who are eligible but not yet signed up in an effort to reduce paperwork and give insurance to an estimated 65,000 uninsured Marylanders. Another bill includes a package of mental health care that aims to get folks help before their mental health concerns become an emergency, such as setting up a suicide and crisis prevention hotline. 

Regarding abortion, in light of Roe v. Wade being overturned, one Maryland bill aims to protect patients and providers from criminal, civil, and administrative penalties relating to abortion bans or restrictions in other states, CBS reports. Another is a data-privacy bill that protects medical and insurance records in electronic health information sharing. Additionally, Gov. Moore signed a bill to ensure that Maryland’s public colleges and universities have a viable plan to give students easy access to emergency contraception and medical abortion (abortion pills). 

Because of restrictive abortion laws in other states, Maryland is becoming a “safe haven state” where people travel to obtain reproductive care unavailable in their hometown. 

And as for gender-affirming health care, one of the six bills regards The Trans Health Equity Act and expands on how many gender-affirming procedures will be covered by Maryland’s Medicaid program. Under the legislation, which goes into effect on January 1, Medicaid will cover additional gender-affirming treatments.

All of the six bills, from cannabis to gender-affirming health care, tie together in a cohesive wellness package. For example, research shows that access to gender-affirming care reduces suicide rates, so ideally, all six bills will make Maryland a safer and healthier place for its residents. 

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Maryland Lawmakers Pass Bill Barring Weed Odor As Probable Cause For Searches

The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill on April 10 that bars police from using the odor of cannabis as the basis for the search of a person or automobile. The measure, House Bill 1071, also lowers the civil fine for consuming cannabis in public to $50. 

The bill was approved by the Maryland House by a vote of 101-36 in the closing minutes of the legislative session Monday night after passing in the state Senate with amendments earlier in the day. The legislation now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Wes Moore for consideration.

Bill Bans Searches Based on Odor of Weed

Under House Bill 1071, law enforcement officers would be prohibited from using the odor of raw or burnt cannabis as probable cause to search a person or vehicle. Supporters of the legislation maintain that the bill is required to fulfill the intent of Question 4, a ballot referendum to legalize recreational marijuana that passed with nearly two-thirds of the vote in the midterm elections last year. House Bill 1071 also bans searches based on possession of a legal amount of marijuana or the presence of cash in the proximity of cannabis without additional evidence showing an intent to distribute marijuana.

Question 4, which takes effect on July 1, legalizes possession of up to 12 grams of cannabis for personal use. Possession of between 12 and 20 grams will be a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $250. Possession of cannabis in quantities greater than 20 grams will be a misdemeanor carrying penalties including up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Because possession of cannabis will still be illegal in amounts greater than 12 grams, legalization advocates say House Bill 1071 is necessary to protect the rights of legal cannabis users. The legislation follows a court decision from the Maryland Supreme Court last year that upheld police authority to briefly detain and search individuals based on the odor of cannabis, despite the state’s legalization of medical marijuana in 2013. Assistant Maryland Public Defender Michele Hall, who unsuccessfully argued the Supreme Court case, told the House Judiciary Committee last month that police will continue to conduct searches based solely on the perceived odor of cannabis.

“Legalization alone did not fix this problem,” Hall told the House Judiciary Committee last month, according to a report from the Maryland Daily Record.

“As long as odor supports Fourth Amendment intrusion, Marylanders legally engaging in the cannabis market are at risk,” added Hall. “Alleging odor of cannabis alone is nothing more than a blank check for police to intrude upon a person’s right to privacy in the hopes of finding something criminal, and the Fourth Amendment requires more.”

The legislation to ban police from using the odor of marijuana as probable cause for a search is also supported by the Maryland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Marijuana odor stops and searches not only pose serious risk to people’s Fourth Amendment rights, they enable racial profiling and dangerous and unnecessary police interactions,” Yanet Amanuel, the chapter’s public policy director, told the Judiciary Committee in March.

“This is why it is critical that the legislature must step up and ensure that the law and police practices are consistent with the reason you all said you support legalization of marijuana and, most importantly, the law reflects the will of the people,” Amanuel added. “Marylanders should not fear police interactions because of a lingering odor of a now legal substance.”

Meg Nash, a partner at the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, said that legislation such as House Bill 1071 is needed to ensure that the legalization of cannabis is enforced equally.

“It’s encouraging to see Maryland tackling the harmful impacts of the war on drugs, not only through adult use legalization, but by revisiting sections of their criminal code,” Nash wrote in an email to High Times on Wednesday. “These types of laws are necessary to protect the rights of individuals in states, like Maryland, that have legalized cannabis for adult use and show the state’s commitment to addressing harms to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition.”

House Bill 1071 also reduces the fine for public consumption of cannabis from $250 to $50. After receiving final passage in the closing minutes of the current legislative session Monday night, the bill has been sent to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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Maryland Lawmakers Pass Recreational Marijuana Sales Bill

Lawmakers in Maryland passed legislation over the weekend to regulate commercial cannabis production and sales after months of negotiation on issues including social equity and taxation. The bill, which sets the stage for regulated recreational marijuana sales to begin on July 1, now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Wes Moore.

The Maryland Senate passed the bill with amendments on Friday by a vote of 30-12. The House of Delegates, which originally approved the measure on March 10, passed the amended version of the legislation on Saturday with a 104-35 vote, sending the bill to Moore for consideration. The governor, who supported efforts to legalize cannabis for adults in Maryland, is expected to sign the bill, according to a report from the Washington Post.

After the bill’s passage, lawmakers said that they drew on Maryland’s experience legalizing the medicinal use of cannabis and regulatory efforts in other states to draft the legislation to legalize the production and sale of recreational marijuana.

“We’ve been talking with our counterparts in other states saying, ‘If you had to do it all over again what would you do differently? What did you wish you had known when you set up your program?’” Democratic Senator Melony Griffith, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said at a press conference. “We have great expertise here in Maryland, with our medicinal cannabis program, and have had tremendous success. So all of those ingredients, if you will, have been rolled into our cannabis framework.”

In November, Maryland voters legalized recreational marijuana with the passage of Question 4, a state referendum that was approved with nearly two-thirds of the vote. The bill passed by the legislature on Saturday sets the stage for legalization to take effect, allowing adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to two cannabis plants at home, beginning on July 1. 

Under the legislation, a new regulation and enforcement division would be created within the state’s existing Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, which would be renamed the Alcohol, Tobacco and Cannabis Commission. The legislation includes provisions to guide the regulation of cannabis production and sales and sets a 9% tax on recreational marijuana purchases. 

Lawmakers Block New Amendment To Further Restrict Dispensaries

Before the bill was passed in the House, Republican Delegate Wayne A. Hartman proposed an amendment that would increase the mandatory minimum distance separating cannabis dispensaries from 500 feet to one mile. The proposal also would have required dispensaries to be at least one mile away from schools, parks, playgrounds and libraries.

“So, we couldn’t put a dispensary anywhere in Ocean City because there’s nowhere that spans a mile between any of these things?” asked House Economic Matters chair C.T. Wilson.

“I can’t tell you I’m heartbroken by that,” Hartman replied.

But Wilson said that the residents of Hartman’s district might feel differently, noting that voters approved the referendum to legalize adult-use cannabis in Maryland with more than two-thirds of the vote statewide.

“They asked us to do this,” he said. “They asked us to do this in a fair and equitable way. They asked us to make sure we didn’t stick them all in one place and to make sure that anybody who wanted to buy does have access.”

Social Equity A Priority

To help promote equity in the cannabis industry and ownership by those negatively affected by marijuana prohibition, the first licenses awarded in Maryland will be reserved for social equity applicants. To qualify, an applicant must have at least 65% ownership by an individual who lived in a “disproportionately impacted area” for five of the last 10 years or attended a public school in such an area. The bill also creates a new Office of Social Equity in the cannabis division to promote participation by “people from communities that have previously been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs,” Wilson said at a committee hearing for the bill last month.

Brian Vicente, founding partner at the cannabis and psychedelics law firm Vicente LLP, lauded the approval of the cannabis commerce legalization bill by the Maryland legislature.

“Maryland continues its charge towards legalization with the House and Senate sending a regulatory bill to the governor’s desk to establish a robust, adult-use licensing structure,” Vicente wrote in an email to High Times. “This law will increase the number of cannabis businesses, and the first round of new business owners will be social equity applicants. Since state voters passed legalization by almost 70%, it’s unsurprising that the Maryland legislature is moving quickly to implement the voter’s will. They remain firmly on target to begin adult-use sales by July 1.”

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Maryland Adult-Use Cannabis Plan Advances

Maryland is inching closer to a plan to set up its adult-use cannabis market, after a few amendments were made to iron out potential issues.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot referendum last year, legalizing possession of up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis for adults, which will become legal July 1. But the state has yet to implement final rules regarding how the market will be regulated.

On Monday, Maryland’s Senate Finance Committee approved their chamber’s version of Senate Bill 516, a bill to establish the state’s adult-use market, with several amendments. The planned administrative body, for instance, will no longer be combined with the state’s alcohol and tobacco regulatory body.

The committee voted to create an independent Maryland Cannabis Administration to regulate the adult-use industry. It would operate separately from the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission. Both the original Senate and House bills proposed including the Cannabis Commission as a division within the already existing Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, but that plan fell through.

Lawmakers also tweaked the tax plan. Instead of implementing a graduated sales tax, starting at 6% and eventually growing to 10% by 2028, growing 1% each year incrementally, the state would implement a flat 9% sales tax once cannabis becomes legal for adults on July 1. 

The Baltimore Sun reports that the bill is moving towards its final steps before it can be sent to the governor.

Lawmakers need to approve the bill before the state’s annual 90-day session ends on April 10. “We need to get something along to the governor,” Senate Finance Committee Chair Melony Griffith said at the committee meeting.

The House version of the bill, House Bill 556, advanced earlier this month, which now awaits a full vote by the Senate.

DCist reports that both the House and Senate versions aim to address the problems associated with the rollout of the state’s medical cannabis industry. Maryland legalized medical cannabis in 2014, but it was hammered with a series of setbacks. When the industry was finally operational, not a single Black-owned business was included in the first round of licenses, even though Black residents make up nearly one-third of the state’s population.

Maryland’s March to Adult Use Cannabis

Voters approved Question 4, or the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, on Nov. 8, 2022. The passage of this initiative amends the Maryland Constitution with Article XX which allows cannabis possession and consumption for adults 21 and older, starting on or after July 1, 2023. The amendment also instructed the Maryland General Assembly to “provide for the use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of cannabis within the state.”

Two companion pieces of legislation to award licenses, regulate the sale of cannabis, and set tax rates were filed Feb. 3 in both Maryland’s House and Senate. Maryland Delegates Vanessa Atterbeary (D-District 13) and C. T. Wilson (D-District 28) sponsored the House bill and Sens. Brian Feldman (D-District 15) and Antonio Hayes (D-District 40) sponsored the Senate version.

An upcoming round of new licenses for growers, processors and distributors would roll out on Jan. 1, 2024 for social equity applicants, defined as those who have lived in or attended school in an area disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. Another round of licenses would roll out after May 1, 2024.

The plan would allow for licenses for up to 300 dispensaries, 100 processors, and 75 growers. Smaller micro operations would be afforded additional licenses for 200 dispensaries, 100 processors, and 100 growers.

Now, the Senate’s version of the bill will move to the Budget and Taxation Committee, before reaching the full Senate for a vote.

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Police are Getting People High as Part of ‘Stoned Driving’ Training

Driving while stoned.

It has become one of the more vexing challenges for law enforcement in the era of legalization, with cops across the country struggling to square their jurisdiction’s new cannabis laws with their mandate to keep the roads safe. 

The Washington Post detailed how a police department in Maryland, where voters approved a measure legalizing recreational pot last year, are preparing for a potential spike in impaired drivers on their roads.

According to the Washington Post, the Montgomery County, Maryland Police Department holds a gathering two to three times per year.

“Montgomery County brings in marijuana smokers — literally goes to pick them up in police cars — and walks them to the tent outside its training academy so they can get stoned. Bags of Cheetos, bottles of water and plenty of pizza are on the house,” the report said. “Participants are then used as test subjects for officers trying to determine whether someone is too high to drive. That’s not easy. Unlike people who drive drunk, and whose impairment can be quantified by breathalyzers and blood-alcohol tests, it’s more difficult to discern with pot.”

The exercise, according to the Post, is “increasingly being held at police agencies nationwide.”

As states and cities have lined up to reform their existing cannabis laws and end the prohibition on pot, law enforcement in those jurisdictions have often had to play catch-up. 

In Virginia, which became the first state in the southern United States to legalize recreational cannabis in 2021, officials began exploring options last year to crack down on stoned driving. 

“Virginia officials said the ‘oral fluid tests’ under consideration to detect marijuana intoxication are similar to a ‘preliminary breath test’ — a roadside test for alcohol. The test results, while not admissible in court, can help determine when the cannabis was consumed, and can be combined with other factors to get probable cause for extensive blood testing,” the Virginian-Pilot reported in December.

The newspaper also said that officials were considering “changing state law to allow roadside screening devices in which officers and deputies can have a driver swab his or her cheek in order to gather saliva to test for marijuana and other drugs.”

In New York, which legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2021, officials were said to be “scrambling” last fall as they raced to develop a mechanism to determine whether or not someone is too stoned to drive.

“Identifying drivers impaired by cannabis use is of critical importance…..However, unlike alcohol, there are currently no evidence-based methods to detect cannabis-impaired driving,” read a memo from New York Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office.

The stoned driving simulations in Montgomery County, Maryland might be the most novel effort yet. 

The Washington Post’s story provided an account of a “recent session, held on a Thursday night in January, [that] lasted nearly four hours.”

“Participants engaged in a 30-minute ‘consumption session,’ followed by impairment evaluations inside the building, and repeated the cycle. During the second consumption session, officers asked if any volunteers wanted to add alcohol to the mix.

‘Who wants a Bud Light?’ asked Lt. John O’Brien, leaning over a cooler. Then he grabbed a large bottle of booze: ‘Captain Morgan?’…None of the subjects drive home. They return via the cops who brought them. All hold medical-use cards and are reimbursed for the product they ingest.”

The Post said that “Montgomery has been a leader in the cannabis labs program, also called green labs, which experts say appears to be operating in nearly 10 states.”

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Stoner Gatekeeping Needs To Stop

Have you been personally victimized by a weed shamer?

You know, someone who says you’re not a “real stoner” because of what you smoke, how you smoke, or how much you smoke? 

They might claim to LOVE weed, and even have a username like @big_rips420… but for some reason they still take time out of their day to let you know – YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. 

Behavior like this is more annoying than losing your lighter. And it contradicts the spirit and nature of the very plant we love.

Look – everyone has different reasons for including weed in their lives. Some use it for medical reasons, some use it to relax and some use it to get blasted to the moon.

But not every stoner has a top shelf budget or superior rolling skills.

They might not even have full legal access to weed yet!

I’m a Marylander and we only JUST went legal – it’s not even in effect yet. I’ve experienced “dry spells” and bought weed from my relative’s high school dealer. You got what you got. 

When I moved to a fully legal state I had access to everything. But this elite form of cannabis consumption isn’t available to everyone. 

So how are you going to sit there and judge others when we’re supposed to be a community? We’re already judged by everyone else, half the country isn’t legal and budgets are tighter than ever. We can be more productive with open conversations and education. Such a good excuse to sesh! 

At a time when everything is kind of fucking crazy, weed is the one thing we can unite on. It’s time to be a weed snob instead. 

Shaming and Snobbery 

Great weed and experiences around it are exceptional. Stoners can become a bit evangelical. So many people have talked about how bad weed is for so long. Once you realize it was a bunch of bullshit propaganda, it’s hard to shut up.  

But with great power (weed) comes great responsibility. A weed snob has a mission to elevate and educate. 

Weed snobs want the best product and experience. They’re flavor chasing, asking for the freshest flower and their nose knows. They want others to have the best experience, too. Weed shaming takes responsibility away from providers and their role of providing the best product. If anyone should be shamed, it should be the people selling boof. 


Gatekeeping doesn’t always come from a bad place, either. Legal weed is a new industry that attracts bad actors. Many have been burned in the past from bad people and products. They’re looking out for their community. But concerns about safety or experience while well intentioned can be poorly executed.

Recently, products like Delta 8, HHC, THC-O and bunk CBD have flooded the market. There’s been a crazy lack of oversight and education. On top of that, slow and confusing policy has allowed for a lot of grey area activity since the 2018 Farm Bill passed.

Even the recent DEA classification of Delta 8 THCO and Delta 9 THCO have left people confused as to what will ultimately be enforced. 

Many have questioned the sourcing, testing and overall safety and transparency of these products. Especially since they can be sold online and in gas stations. On the other hand, many people in fully illegal states have enjoyed what access they can get. 

Safety concerns are very real and legitimate to raise. But respectfully so.


Some comments I’ve been personally left online are batshit.

“If you don’t have anything nice to say …”

Look – weed is supposed to be fun and make people feel good! Shaming others based on how they smoke or how much isn’t productive.

While 88% of people are all for medical and recreational cannabis, there’s still a stigma around the plant and those who use it. Sasha aka Silenced Hippie has been sharing her stoney adventures online for years. She still gets hateful comments from within the community about her consumption. 

And did you know 1 in 10 adults still believe weed should not be legal at all. Beyond disparaging each other within the community, imagine the comments left online by those outside of it. If we can’t be united on the most basic human level, how will we ever achieve broader progress?  


Read the national room.

Only 21 states have fully legalized weed. California is one of the weed capitals of the world. But 56% of the Golden State’s cities and counties don’t allow any type of cannabis business. Out-of-staters envision a dispensary on every corner. In reality 61% of Cali’s cities and counties don’t allow any retail. Over half the “Weed Mecca” state doesn’t have legal access to cannabis or places to purchase it in.


Access isn’t limited to physical stores and delivery services. Have you seen the price of top shelf weed in legal states? Without tax, you’re already looking at $60-$80 eighths of weed. For some, that’s an entire week of groceries. 

There are multiple fees you could be looking at depending how and where you buy your weed. There’s a 15% retail tax in California. And a few cities have a tax on top of that. Some delivery services have $300 minimums. Knowing how to find quality weed at great prices is a skill. It takes a lot of research, trial and error. Especially as everyone is still finding their footing in developing markets. 


And that’s just one of many ways weed can be intimidating. 

Many of us and our parents grew up in the world of D.A.R.E. and Reefer Madness. It took a lot of unlearning to realize cannabis wasn’t the Devil’s Lettuce. 

Not only could it be fun – it could help heal. 

“As a content creator, negative comments and critiques are common — but the complaint I get the most is that I ‘don’t inhale.’ Not only has this myth been debunked, it’s also a bit immature. Besides, there’s no “wrong” way to medicate. I don’t let it get to me because people will always have something to complain about.” – Ariana Rothwell / @indicawife

Everyone smokes differently! Some people don’t even smoke. I’ll never forget being made fun of for not knowing how to use a bong or roll a proper joint. It made me feel so embarrassed and scared to ask questions. When someone finally showed me how to pull a bowl and get the filter to stay in, it changed my entire perspective. And ultimately allowed me to have a better experience. 

But that could only have happened with open communication and a space that felt safe to have that in. 

Instead of judgment and shame, we can educate each other respectfully and share how we prefer to consume and why. It’s personal to everyone! That’s the power of being a weed snob. 

That’s the power of weed! It’s universal, it can heal and can take so many beautiful forms. 

We have so much left to discover – why would we limit ourselves now?

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CBD May Magnify Effects of THC in Edibles, Johns Hopkins Study Suggests

According to a study published Feb. 13 in JAMA Network Open, when THC was combined with CBD in edibles, they produced significantly stronger subjective drug effects, greater impairment of cognitive and psychomotor ability. 

The study supports what Harvard Professor Dr. Lester Grinspoon and many others have said all along: that CBD combined with THC produces stronger effects, part of what’s often called the entourage or ensemble effect.

The findings indicate that CBD in edibles inhibit the metabolism, or breakdown, of THC, which may result in stronger and longer effects. In the study, impairment was considered an adverse effect. 

Researchers observed 18 adults, 11 male and 7 female from January 2021 to March 2022 at the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

Study volunteers took part in three sessions eating infused brownies, separated for a week or more. In each session, participants ate a brownie with either 20 mg of THC, 20 mg of THC and 640 mg of CBD, or no THC or CBD as placebo. Neither the participants nor the investigators knew in advance what was in the brownie that participants ate as a double blind study.

Participants were also given a drug cocktail consisting of five cytochrome (CYP) probe drugs: 100 mg caffeine, 25 mg losartan, 20 mg omeprazole, 30 mg dextromethorphan, and 2 mg midazolam, 30 minutes after eating each brownie.

Researchers noted that the maximum amount of THC measured in participants’ blood samples was almost twice as high after consuming a brownie containing a CBD-dominant extract (with 640 mg of CBD) than after eating a brownie with only THC, even though the dose of THC in each brownie—20 mg—was the same. 

Researchers acknowledged that edibles are metabolized very differently than other delivery methods.

“The fact that THC and CBD were orally administered was very important for the study, and played a large role in the behavioral effects and drug interactions we saw,” study author Austin Zamarripa, Ph.D. said, as quoted by News Medical.

“Overall, we saw stronger subjective drug effects, greater impairment of cognitive [thinking] and psychomotor [moving] ability and greater increase in heart rate when the same dose of THC was given in a high CBD cannabis extract, compared with a high THC extract with no CBD,” said Zamarripa.

To allow for comparison, blood samples were collected from study participants before each session, along with their vital signs, and their cognitive and psychomotor performance were measured. Participants provided blood and urine samples at timed intervals for 12 hours and then again about 24 hours after eating a dose. 

Self-reported effects were measured using the Drug Effect Questionnaire (DEQ), a standardized tool used to measure aspects of subjective experiences after being given a psychoactive drug (in this case, cannabis).

Using the DEQ system, participants rated subjective effects from the edibles with a scale from 0 to 100, with 0 being “not at all affected” and 100 being “extremely affected.”

Participants reported greater increases in overall drug effects when they took the high oral dose of CBD.

“We have demonstrated that with a relatively high oral dose of CBD [640 mg] there can be significant metabolic interactions between THC and CBD, such that the THC effects are stronger, longer-lasting, and tend to reflect an increase in unwanted adverse effects,” says Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the study’s senior author.

The study differs from previous findings. A study published in November 2022 in the journal Neuropsychology attempted to determine if CBD reduces the adverse effects of THC, which could be considered as including impairment. But they found that CBD doesn’t necessarily show evidence of reducing adverse side effects.

Researchers said that future studies are needed to better understand the impact of CBD and THC doses.

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Legislation To Launch Adult-Use Sales in Maryland Unveiled

Right on schedule, two companion bills to regulate adult-use cannabis sales by July 1 were unveiled in Maryland. Two pieces of legislation to award licenses, regulate the sale of cannabis, and set tax rates were filed Friday in both Maryland’s House and Senate.

WBAL-11 TV reports that the 120-page House Bill 556 and its companion bill that was cross-filed in the Senate, Senate Bill 556, were unveiled Friday. Maryland Delegates Vanessa Atterbeary (D-District 13) and C. T. Wilson (D-District 28) sponsored the House bill and Sens. Brian Feldman (D-District 15) and Antonio Hayes (D-District 40) sponsored the Senate version.

The bills would implement a phased-in style tax structure that begins at 6%, and is capped at 10%. The tax rate would increase by 1% each year incrementally, finally to be capped at 10%. 

Thirty percent of tax revenue would be allocated toward a community reinvestment fund for 10 or more years. It would also allocate 1.5% of tax revenue to go to local jurisdictions and 1.5% towards Cannabis Public Health Fund and the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund each.

Not Falling Into the Same Traps as Other States

Lawmakers in Maryland said they want to avoid problems seen in adult-use cannabis markets in other states—particularly New York.

“We have to have it ready, otherwise we will have New York’s problem, which is a huge illicit market. Once they lock their heels in, it’s hard to move around,” said Wilson.

The July 1 date of sales would align with the original date set under Question 4. Lawmakers said they were confident that the sale of adult-use will begin July 1 in Maryland, as per the constitutional amendment approved by a large majority of voters.

Wilson reiterated the reasoning behind legalizing pot in Maryland—which goes well beyond simply recreational purposes.

“The goal … wasn’t to get Marylanders high,” Wilson said. “It was to take cannabis out of the criminal street of commerce, take young Black men from being arrested and dying.”

He continued, saying the legislation would “create a more business-friendly space for African Americans and minorities to participate, that’s the overarching goal of the bill.”

Some lawmakers expressed concerns over potential problems that could arise.

“The bill focuses on a very simple taxing structure. We are not permitting a piggyback tax by the local (jurisdictions), so I hope they don’t think they are about to suck in a whole lot of money from this,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairwoman Vanessa Atterbeary, (D-District 13).

The Road to Adult-Use Sales in Maryland

Voters approved Question 4, or the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, on Nov. 8. The passage of this initiative amends the Maryland Constitution with Article XX which allows cannabis possession and consumption for adults 21 and older, starting on or after July 1, 2023. The amendment also instructed the Maryland General Assembly to “provide for the use, distribution, possession, regulation, and taxation of cannabis within the state.”

Question 4 legalized the possession of cannabis up to 1.5 ounces of flower and 10 grams of concentrate, which was immediately decriminalized after Jan. 1, 2023, and will become legal on July 1, 2023. The bill permits residents to grow two cannabis plants at home, and immediately expunges anyone with cannabis convictions on their record.

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said weeks ago that he wants to avoid long, drawn-out rollout to the state’s voter-approved law

“People of the state overwhelmingly chose to decriminalize cannabis. So we as a state now have an obligation to make sure that the will of the people is both heard, but that we do have a swift and equitable rollout,” Moore told Politico last month.

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Maryland Gov. Wants To Avoid Long, Drawn-out Cannabis Rollout

Voters in Maryland last year elected a new governor and approved an initiative legalizing recreational cannabis. 

Now, the freshly sworn-in Gov. Wes Moore will lead the effort to implement the state’s marijuana law.

“People of the state overwhelmingly chose to decriminalize cannabis. So we as a state now have an obligation to make sure that the will of the people is both heard, but that we do have a swift and equitable rollout,” Moore, a Democrat, told Politico in an interview that was published this week.

Moore won handily in his race against Republican Dan Cox in November, 65% to 32%, to become Maryland’s first black governor. 

In the same election, Maryland voters approved Question 4, which legalized recreational marijuana use for adults in the state and also laid the groundwork for a regulated retail cannabis market, by roughly the same margin. 

When the calendar flipped to 2023 this month, parts of that new cannabis law took effect

Possession of as many as one-and-a-half ounces of weed no longer constitutes a crime in Maryland; instead, it is currently only a civil violation. It will be fully legal starting in July.

Additionally, Marylanders who have a marijuana-related conviction on their records will have it expunged from their records by the summer of 2024, although they have the option to petition and ask a judge to resentence in order to have it scrubbed sooner. 

The state’s regulated cannabis market, however, likely won’t launch until 2024 or 2025. 

In his interview with Politico this week, Moore said it is important for the rollout of the new marijuana program to not be long and drawn out.

“That is something that we will be [working with] the legislature during this session and something that we are going to have to lay out when we look at our budgetary agenda.

That is how we’re making sure that the process of the rollout of cannabis is going to be equitable, it’s going to be transparent and it’s going to be quick,” said Moore, who was sworn in as governor on Wednesday. “We cannot have a process that takes 18 to 24 months to roll out, because if this goes on too long, what you’re doing is you’re inviting the illegal market back into it. Then you’re going to run into some of the same challenges that some of these other states are having or have had.”

Moore added, “This has to be something where, once we have everything in place when it comes to cannabis, from distribution, taxation and revenue returns, [if you’re buying on the black market] then that, like any other illegal transaction, is now an illegal transaction. I think that’s one of the reasons why, again, we want to make sure we’re being transparent, equitable and quick within this process.” 

Sixty-seven percent of Maryland voters approved Question 4 in November, while only 33% voted against the measure. 

Question 4 was backed financially by the cannabis giant Trulieve, which already operates medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

The “Yes on 4” campaign was led by Eugene Monroe, a former player for the Baltimore Ravens.

“Tonight voters in Maryland made history by bringing the era of failed marijuana prohibition to an end,” Monroe said in November after Question 4 passed. “For decades, the unequally enforced criminalization of cannabis in Maryland inflicted damage upon Black and Brown communities. We must turn the page on that disturbing history by centering Maryland’s legal marijuana market around racial equity. Cannabis legalization will create good-paying jobs, open up doors for small business owners, and generate new tax revenue for our state. Legislators in Maryland have a responsibility to ensure people in historically underserved communities are able to enjoy those benefits.”

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Maryland Voter-Approved Legalization Measure Takes Shape in New Year

Maryland might still be years away from the launch of its new legal marijuana market, but the start of the new year has still marked the beginning of the post-prohibition era mid-Atlantic state.

A large majority of Maryland voters approved a ballot initiative in November that will both legalize recreational pot use for adults in the state and also establish a regulated retail cannabis market. 

Per local news station WJLA, although “recreational marijuana won’t be fully legal until July 1, as of now possession of up to 1.5 ounces is no longer a crime”; instead, according to the station, “It’s a civil violation carrying a $100 fine.”

“For amounts up to 2.5 ounces the fine is $250,” the station reported.

But the new law will yield immediate changes on the criminal justice front. 

According to WJLA, Marylanders with a cannabis-related conviction on their criminal record on will have it automatically be expunged by July 1, 2024, but they do not have to wait that long.

“You can go to the Maryland Courts website and apply for an expungement without any help from an attorney. They even have instructional videos,” the station said.

WJLA continued: “There is also very good news for those currently locked up for cannabis-related crimes. As long as that is the only crime for which they’re serving a sentence, they can immediately ask for resentencing and a judge must resentence to time served and they must be released.”

Sixty-seven percent of Maryland voters approved Question 4 in November, making the state the latest to end the prohibition on cannabis use. 

The “Yes on 4” campaign was bankrolled by Trulieve, a major cannabis company with a significant presence in Maryland’s existing medical cannabis market. 

The campaign also deployed former Baltimore Ravens player Eugene Monroe as its chairman. 

“Tonight voters in Maryland made history by bringing the era of failed marijuana prohibition to an end,” Monroe said in a statement following its passage in November, as quoted by the Associated Press. “For decades, the unequally enforced criminalization of cannabis in Maryland inflicted damage upon Black and Brown communities. We must turn the page on that disturbing history by centering Maryland’s legal marijuana market around racial equity. Cannabis legalization will create good-paying jobs, open up doors for small business owners, and generate new tax revenue for our state. Legislators in Maryland have a responsibility to ensure people in historically underserved communities are able to enjoy those benefits.”

The success of Question 4 was foreshadowed by a series of encouraging polls for the campaign.

One that was released in early October by the University of Maryland and The Washington Post found more than 70% of voters in favor of cannabis legalization.

“The thing that stood out to me is the high level of support and the diversity of support. Whether you look across party, region, almost every characteristic, you see majorities supporting this,” said Michael Hanmer, the director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement, as quoted by The Washington Post. “That’s been the trend across the country. People have really shifted their views across time on this issue, all pointing in the direction of being more supportive.”

The “Yes on 4” campaign has been optimistic about the new law’s potential economic benefits for the state, projecting that legalization could “provide the state with over $135 million in tax revenue.” 

“That figure does not include city and county revenue or the savings from the millions of dollars Maryland spends each year enforcing marijuana possession laws. Passing Maryland Question 4 would empower local law enforcement to focus its limited resources on combating violent crimes. Of the ten counties in the United States with the highest rates of marijuana possession arrests, Maryland is home to three of them,” the campaign said on its website.

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