Voters in Frederick County, Maryland, weighed in today, largely expressing support for a ballot measure that will legalize recreational marijuana use.
If passed, Maryland will join neighbors Washington, D.C., and Virginia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use.
The proposed amendment, listed as Question 4 on the ballot, would allow adults to possess up to 1.5 ounces. It also offers people who were arrested for marijuana possession to have their records expunged, and others serving time for simple possession to have their sentences reconsidered.
A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll found 73% of voters favor legalizing the use of cannabis for people 21 and older.
Melissa Ward, a 43-year-old mental health therapist, said she is “extremely pro-cannabis.”
“As a therapist, I like to see my clients have access to things like cannabis versus benzos and alcohol because I feel like the research shows it’s a little less dangerous,” Ward said.
Ward, who is a Democrat, said the state could raise revenue through taxes by legalizing cannabis. She said if Maryland doesn’t vote to legalize recreational cannabis use, then she feels the state will be behind the curve.
Maryland legalized marijuana for medical use in 2013 and, a year later, decriminalized possession of 10 grams or less of cannabis.
Zephan Harnish, a 24-year-old Frederick Republican, said he voted to in favor of question four – the marijuana legalization measure – because he already has a medical marijuana card
If passed, Question 4 would go into effect on July 1, 2023.
David Allen, 63, said he didn’t know there would be a marijuana legalization ballot measure, but that he was happy to vote in favor of it.
“There are people that truly need it,” Allen said.
Voters in Missouri, Arkansas, North Dakota and South Dakota will also vote on legalizing recreational marijuana this Election Day.
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational cannabis use for adults.
Wendy Whitmore, a Democrat Frederick County voter, said she didn’t feel too strongly in either direction on the issue, but that she did vote in favor of its’ passage.
“I don’t like the fact that people would go to jail for having marijuana and then they can’t get a job,” Whitmore said.
Some voters, however, expressed concern about the prospects of legalizing recreational marijuana.
Amanda Camilleri, 41, is a Frederick County mom and Republican. She voted no on the measure, saying that there’s already “drugs everywhere,” and further legalization would just exacerbate the problem.
“I never did it, and I would not like it out there for my kids to partake in,” Camilleri said.
The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation, aiming to address the criminal justice and racial equity impact of legalizing cannabis. The Cannabis Reform bill alters certain provisions relating to penalties, charging procedures, expungement, shielding and sentencing for certain offenses involving cannabis.
This amendment comes after President Biden announced last month he would pardon all those federally convicted on simple marijuana possession charges.