Leaders of the General Assembly announced the membership of a much-expected work group that could move the state toward the legalization of recreational marijuana.
The announcement by House Speaker Michael Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. adds the final 13 members to a panel that is tasked with developing policies that could lead to the taxation and regulation of marijuana.
“With our sister states moving to legalization, it is time for the General Assembly to take an in-depth look at this issue,” Miller said in a joint statement. “With the complex myriad of questions around legalization, I am confident our senators and delegates will examine these topics with recommendations for possible votes in the 2020 Session.”
Sen. Robert “Bobby” Zirkin, D-Baltimore County and chairman of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, and Del. Kathleen Dumais, D-Montgomery and House majority leader, will lead the joint work group.
Also confirmed on the panel is Del. David Moon, D-Montgomery and sponsor of legalization legislation.
All three had previously confirmed they were asked to serve on the panel.
Miller, in the statement with Busch, announced he has also appointed Sen. Bill Ferguson, D-Baltimore and vice chair of the Budget and Taxation Committee; Brian Feldman, D-Montgomery and vice chair of the Finance Committee; Sen. Steve Hershey, R-Upper Shore and Senate minority whip; Sen. Jill Carter, D-Baltimore; Sen. Melony Griffith, D-Prince George’s; Sen. Doug Peters, D-Prince George’s; Sen. Jeff Waldstreicher, D-Montgomery; and Sen. Chris West, R-Baltimore County.
Members appointed by Busch include: Del. Jay Walker, D-Prince George’s and vice chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; Del. Vanessa Atterbeary, D-Howard and vice chairwoman of the House Judiciary Committee; Del. Eric Bromwell, D-Baltimore County and vice chairman of the House Economic Matters Committee; Del. Nicholaus Kipke, R-Anne Arundel and House minority leader; Del. Kathy Szeliga, R-Baltimore and Harford counties and House minority whip; Dels. Sandy Rosenberg and Nick Mosby, both Baltimore Democrats.
Mosby is the husband of Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, who announced earlier this month that she would no longer prosecute marijuana possession cases.
The group is expected to focus on a variety of issues, including:
- Health and criminal justice impacts of legalized recreational marijuana.
- Taxes and licensing and best practices from other states.
- Public health impacts.
- Challenges related to federal tax and banking laws.
- Minority- and women-owned businesses within the state industry.
The panel is expected to deliver a final report by the end of the year.
“Over the past several years, we have decriminalized small amounts of marijuana, implemented a medical marijuana program and reduced jail sentences for nonviolent drug offenders,” Busch said in a joint statement. “With many states exploring legalizing marijuana use, President Miller and I want to make sure legislators understand all of the complexities of legalization and are prepared if, indeed, we move forward.”
Work groups, because of the way they are informally created through a joint announcement, are not typically subject to the Maryland Open Meetings Act. In the past, the arrangement has allowed panels on topics such as gun laws and bail reform to operate behind closed doors with little or no public notice.