Maryland Marijuana Vote: Arguments for and against legalizing recreational use

Maryland voters will head to the polls in just under two weeks and decide whether recreational marijuana should be legal in the state. However, as the vote draws near, supporters and opponents remain at odds over the benefits and drawbacks.

While there has been bipartisan support for marijuana legalization, opponents of the movement in Maryland question if Democrats are pushing marijuana ballot questions to get more people to the polls.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Maryland voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana

Maryland's medicinal marijuana industry has done $388 million in sales in 2022. If the question passes, Marylanders over 21 could possess up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana and grow two plants.

Rick Steves, chairman of NORML, says recreational marijuana tax revenue may generate $500 million a year.

"Last  year my state government got over $500 million of tax revenue earmarked for public health for law enforcement, for education, for good stuff instead of gangs and criminal organizations," Steves says. "What’s not to like about that?"  

Opponents say the rush to legalize marijuana in states like Maryland is moving too quickly. Marijuana is still a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has a high potential for abuse.

Paul Larkin of the Heritage Foundation says he thinks politics is fueling the legalization push.

"They’re thinking this will attract votes from the voters. But no one is going to get any of those if they say: This is a matter for the FDA to decide," Larkin says. "So they are basically distorting the proper focus of how we should treat what is a clear drug."

If the ballot question passes, Maryland would become the 20th state to legalize adult recreational use of the drug. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore says he supports voters deciding the issue while Republican Dan Cox says he's opposed to legalized recreational marijuana.