Maryland: Senate recreational cannabis bill differs from House bill over taxes



The Senate’s bill to map out the legalization of recreational marijuana in Maryland differs greatly from the House proposal over taxes.

Legislation making recreational cannabis legal in Maryland still has a long way to go in a relatively short period of time. And, changes made by the Senate Finance Committee could set up a showdown between the House and Senate.

But legislative leaders put an optimistic spin on the changes, calling the differences minor and will be easy to resolve.

“This is one of those bills that everyone has just one more idea. So, the faster we can get to a place of resolution, I think will be better for everyone,” said Senate President Bill Ferguson, D-District 46.

Early this month, the House gave preliminary approval to House Bill 556, which would tax and regulate marijuana.

Under the Senate version, Senate Bill 516, it would cost Marylanders more to recreational marijuana use. The sales tax would go up from 6% to a 9% flat tax, and local governments would be allowed to tack on an additional 3% sales tax.

“While it’s not perfect, I think it offers enough good points for us to be able to move the bill forward,” said Sen. Clarence Lam, D-District 12, whose district encompasses portions of Anne Arundel and Howard counties.

Under the House bill, cannabis would be taxed at 6% for the first year and increase by 1% each year until 2018. It would be capped at 10%.

The Senate bill would still allow people to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis, and current medical cannabis businesses would be allowed to convert their licenses to recreational before July 1.


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