Here at Peake Releaf, we love to keep you informed regarding everything that’s happening across Maryland’s blooming cannabis industry. Recently, Reddit featured an AMA (ask me anything) session by reporters from the Baltimore Sun which covered some important issues.
We’ve compiled some of the most notable Q&As in this blog.
An Introduction via Sam Janesch of the Baltimore Sun:
“Maryland voters approved the legalization of recreational cannabis in November, but that didn’t mean a changed industry overnight. With equity on many stakeholders’ minds, legislators in the General Assembly are racing the clock to set up a regulatory framework by July 1, when Marylanders can legally possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis.
Here’s where things currently stand:
Lawmakers are still sorting through the details of the cannabis industry plan. After a lengthy hearing with stakeholders last month, a House committee passed a slightly amended version of the legislation, House Bill 556, last week.
The Senate Finance Committee, meanwhile, will have a public hearing on the same plan on Thursday, March 9. While the Senate may propose some different amendments than the House proposed, lawmakers are expected to come to an agreement on a final version before the General Assembly finishes its 2023 session April 10.”
Notable Maryland Cannabis Industry Questions Answered:
Q: Will the roll out have any fine print that the average Marylander will not be aware of that you folks have noticed?
A: The plan for this is one of the most complicated things that lawmakers are doing this year. It deals with everything from business regulations to criminal penalties to advertising. We’re trying our best to pay close attention, especially as changes are added along the way.
For example, one slight change in committee last week would make it so that counties and municipalities that get revenue from the cannabis taxes would only be able to use that money for behavioral health and drug treatment efforts.
Q: Is everything expected to be in place for July 1 retail store openings? Will any existing medical dispensaries convert to retail?
A: Lawmakers are working on an aggressive timeline to get at least some recreational cannabis licenses operating by July 1.
And that first round will only be medical marijuana license holders who will be able to convert their licenses into new medical and recreational licenses. It would be up to those license holders to use their existing infrastructure to begin selling cannabis products.
Separate rounds of new cannabis licenses — for dispensaries, growers and processors — will begin later (The bill describes that beginning “on or before” Jan. 1, 2024.
Q: One thing that is great about the current marketplace is the state set a pretty high bar for medical testing. Is the legislature going to carry over that testing standard to the recreational market, and will products still be rigorously tested for terpenes and cannabinoid levels?
A: Yes, cannabis products sold or marketed will need to be tested by an independent testing lab and meet testing protocols determined by a new enforcement division.
Q: How good or bad is the wealth/opportunity gap shaping up to be in terms of revenue distribution and potential entrepreneurial equity?
A: This is a key talking point for many lawmakers after many of them saw the rollout of medical cannabis as inequitable.
The first round of new licenses for growers, distributors and processors will go exclusively to “social equity applicants” — those who live in or went to school in areas of the state that were “disproportionately impacted” by the criminalization of cannabis.
The specifics of that would be largely left up to a new Office of Social Equity that lawmakers would create.
Q: Do you think the taxes on recreational cannabis will force users back to local dealers?
A: This is one of the toughest challenges lawmakers are facing, and why they’re trying to get the legal industry up and running as soon as possible. They believe the 6% sales tax in the first year is a low-enough rate that will discourage folks from using illegal dealers.
That tax increases 1% each year to max out at 10%, but it will be interesting to see if they revise that timeline this year or in the future if they’re not seeing the kinds of sales they hope for.
Peake ReLeaf – The Premier Dispensary in Rockville, MD: Keeping You Informed & Educated on All Things Cannabis!
We hope this blog served to further illuminate Maryland’s exciting new legal recreational cannabis industry. As a leader in this space, we’re thrilled about all of the amazing things that are surely yet to come.
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