Maryland lawmakers over the weekend finished a bill to launch the state’s recreational cannabis market in July.
State lawmakers finished the measure on Saturday, just days before a deadline of midnight on Monday, when the 2023 legislative session will adjourn for the year, The Baltimore Banner reported. Gov. Wes Moore has committed to signing the bill into law, MarketWatch reported.
The move by lawmakers follows a ballot measure victory last November, when voters approved a legalization initiative for a recreational marijuana market in Maryland.
The new bill will give the state’s existing 102 medical marijuana companies first crack at recreational sales starting July 1, but there will also be hundreds more businesses allowed into the market, The Banner reported, including:
- 75 standard cultivation licenses
- 100 processor licenses
- 300 dispensary licenses
- 100 micro grower licenses
- 100 micro processor licenses
- At least 10 micro dispensary/delivery licenses under a pilot program
- Unknown number of consumption lounge licenses
For the MMJ dispensary licensees to gain permission to sell recreational, however, they will each have to pony up 8% of gross revenues from 2022, while licensed medical cannabis growers and processors will have to fork over 10% of gross revenues from last year.
All of the licensed MMJ companies will also have to pay a permit fee of somewhere between $100,000 and $2 million, The Banner reported.
The first new business licensing round will start in January, with only eligible social equity applicants able to apply at that point. A second round of new licensing would begin in May 2024, The Baltimore Sun reported.
The bill also creates at least two new regulatory agencies: The Maryland Cannabis Administration, which will oversee the industry at large and absorb the state Medical Cannabis Commission, and a “social equity office” that will be separate from the administration but will support social equity business applicants.
Maryland also has devoted $80 million to funding and other support systems for social equity entrepreneurs, The Banner reported.