The Maryland Green Party endorses HB 1236 and SB 891 calling for a constitutional amendment providing Marylanders over the age of 21 a right to use, possess, and cultivate Cannabis. If this bill passes both chambers of the General Assembly by a ⅗ majority, the question would go to voters during the 2018 general election. In the case that the constitutional amendment passes, residents of Maryland would be able to possess up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants. The purchase and sale would be regulated by the state of Maryland.
The Green Party of the United States Platform calls for the legalization of the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana and has called for an end to the drug war for at least 20 years.
Current public policy towards marijuana is driven less by fact-based research on the merits of the drug, and driven more by the political power of organizations whose revenues would directly suffer as a result of legalization. A public policy focused on the public good might ask what benefits legalization could bring to society, specifically on how changing priorities for law enforcement would impact our society for the better.
People are realizing the benefits of legalizing marijuana. Public opinion is shifting in favor of legalization throughout the country and states like Colorado and Washington that have already legalized are reaping tremendous benefits. The question for Maryland is not if marijuana will be legal , the question is WHEN and HOW.
The Maryland Green Party Support HB 1236 and SB 891 for four reasons:
The Drug War is Racist, Violent and Costly
The Drug War needs to end. Prohibition has destroyed lives and communities and has created a cycle of violence in Maryland and beyond. Even with the recent decriminalization of marijuana in Maryland, prohibition continues to have a racially disparate effect. Arrests, civil fines, probation and parole, criminal records and time served all target black and brown people at a disproportionate rate. Legalizing Marijuana is a first step in ameliorating these impacts and creating a movement which can end the drug war. This is a first step we can take to begin to repair the lives and communities that have been destroyed.
The Right to Cultivate
One of the key provisions of this proposed bill and amendment is the right for Marylanders to cultivate up to 6 plants. The right to cultivate allows individuals to possess and consume marijuana outside of participating in the market. Home cultivation drives down the demand for an illegal market, keeps prices low and increases the quality in the retail market, and ensures access for residents that may live in counties or municipalities that prohibit retail sale.
A Goucher poll was just released February 27th showing 56% of Marylanders were in favor of legalization, an increase over the previous year. They know how important this issue is in their communities and how much of an impact this would make in their lives. This bill brings this vital question to the voters in the 2018 election. Grassroots democracy is a key Green Party value, and the people of Maryland deserve to have a say on this pivotal issue.
Legalization is needed to reduce the devastation inflicted on many on our southern border. Legalization efforts in many US states and regulation by governments has allowed US marijuana production to expand, reducing the demand of illicit markets and the need for trafficking across the Mexican border. It also reduces profits for cartels, as it has been estimated marijuana sales make up half to two-thirds of their income. This prevents cartels from bribing, buying weapons, and maintaining power through violence and fear. Legalization in Maryland would add another state for the legal and regulated marketplace, decrease income from marijuana sales, and contribute to the elimination of violence on our southern border.