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Maryland lawmakers have approved legislation that will create a recreational marijuana market in the state by this summer.

Democrat Gov. Wes Moore has said he will sign off on House Bill 0056, which legalizes the sale of recreational cannabis to adults 21 and over beginning July 1.

“It’s our job. We have to have a regulated market,” House Economic Matters Committee Chairman C. T. Wilson said on the floor before legislators voted on the final passage on his chamber’s bill, according to cannabis news site Marijuana Moment.

“This is not the perfect vehicle, but it’s [the] best we can do with the information that we’ve had… We want to make sure that we create the access that we can and that we on July 1 can fulfill our duty to our citizens who apparently wanted recreational marijuana,” the Democrat said.

Voters approved a constitutional amendment in November that authorized the creation of a recreational marijuana industry for people 21 and older.

The legislation that passed Friday would tax recreational sales at 9%. It would also send 35% of the tax revenue generated by recreational sales to a community reinvestment fund. A Cannabis Public Health Fund and a Cannabis Business Assistance Fund would each get 5%. 

Counties would also get 5% of the revenue generated from sales.

Medical dispensaries are still exempt from paying the tax, but they’re also first in line to transition into becoming recreational dispensaries once the law takes effect later this year. 

If they do decide to get a  recreational license, they would have to pay the state 8% of their gross revenues from 2022.

Republicans in the minority attempted to make two amendments to the bill, both of which failed.

The first came from Del. Wayne Hartman, from Lower Shore. His amendment would have prohibited dispensaries from opening within a mile of a school, library, playground, recreation center or public park, according to Maryland Matters.

Mr. Wilson, who cosponsored the bill in the House, said that would mean no dispensaries could be built in Mr. Hartman’s district which includes Ocean City.

“I can’t say I’m heartbroken by that,” Mr. Hartman said, per Maryland Matters.

The amendment failed by a 37-103 vote, keeping the bill’s current language of preventing dispensaries within 500 feet of those locations intact.

The second amendment, from Del. Robert B. Long, from Baltimore County, would have outlawed a driver or passenger in a car from smoking or vaping cannabis when a minor is also in the vehicle. 

Mr. Wilson said that was a law enforcement matter not covered by the regulatory nature of the bill being debated. The amendment was rejected 40-97.

The legislature will take a final vote on the bill Monday.

If it passes and goes on to become law — as is expected — Maryland will join 19 other states and the District of Columbia in fully legalizing marijuana.

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