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Lawmakers in Delaware Introduce Two Bills to Legalize Recreational Marijuana, Maryland’s New Governor Releases Funds to Help Establish the State’s Cannabis Program, and NYC’s Illicit Cannabis Market Continues to Thrive

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Lawmakers in Delaware Introduce Two Bills to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Democrats in Delaware are still attempting to legalize recreational cannabis in their state, despite numerous failed legalization efforts over the last decade. Delaware’s Governor John Carney has been vocal about his opposition to cannabis legalization. He has vetoed past attempts at adult-use cannabis legalization during his time in office. But, two bills introduced last week would legalize the plant and set up a regulatory framework for the sale and taxation of marijuana. If passed, House Bill 1 would remove all penalties for possessing one ounce or less of marijuana. House Bill 2 sets up the structure for growing, selling, and taxing legal cannabis. Because HB 2 deals with taxation, it would require a supermajority to pass. 

Maryland’s New Governor Releases Funds to Help Establish the State’s Cannabis Program

In November 2022, voters in Maryland approved adult-use cannabis legalization. Industry experts anticipate the state’s legal market will open sometime in 2024 or 2025. But, to get things moving in the right direction, Maryland’s newly elected Governor Wes Moore directed $46.5 million in funding to set up the legal cannabis market. The funds were a portion of $69 million in cash that the state’s previous governor, Larry Hogan, held in reserve. Of that $46.5 million that Moore released, the majority ($40 million) is for the Cannabis Business Assistance Fund, which is intended to help small businesses owned by women and minorities entering the cannabis industry. Moore promised to ensure equitable access to the legal marijuana market while on the campaign trail.  

NYC’s Illicit Cannabis Market Continues to Thrive

The state of New York legalized adult-use cannabis in March 2021. But to date, only two retail cannabis stores have opened in the entire state. In the meantime, there is a widely expanding illicit market that is thriving in areas of New York. In New York City alone, there are reportedly as many as 1,400 unlicensed marijuana stores. One contributing factor to why the illicit market has flourished is that the stores appear to consumers to be operating legally, particularly as the use of cannabis is completely legal. In addition, the current penalty for illegally selling cannabis is a fine of up to $250, which many feel is too lenient. Lawmakers and officials in the state have vowed to crack down and tighten regulations as the enforcement efforts thus far have not appeared to deter the illegal market.