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Maryland Could Legalize Recreational Marijuana for Tax Revenue

  • Nov 22, 2013 | Gail Cole

 Maryland: Would legalizing marijuana provide tax revenue for early childhood education.

They’ve done it in Colorado. They’ve done it in Washington State. And if Democratic gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur wins, they may do it in Maryland, too.

A taxable revenue source

Mizeur sees the benefits in legalizing the recreational use of marijuana—notably bringing the underground market for pot “to the light of day.” It would only be sold to people aged 21 or older, like alcohol, and sales could bring the state “as much as $157 million a year….”  That’s money any state could use.

Speaking on News Talk, Mizeur said she wanted to see marijuana regulated and sold in state-sanctioned facilities, where it would be a “taxable revenue source.” She would use revenue generated by sales of marijuana to “fund a universal early childhood education program, a pre-k program for our 4 and 3 year olds…. It’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it.”

Medical marijuana

Medical marijuana became legal in Maryland earlier this year—or at least it is no longer always illegal to possess it. On June 1, a law establishing an “affirmative defense to a prosecution for the possession of marijuana…intended for medical use by an individual with a specific debilitating medical condition…” took effect. In addition, HB 1101, signed into law as Chapter 403, “allows for the investigational use of marijuana for medical purposes” and established a commission to:

  • “develop requests for applications for academic medical centers to operate programs in the State;”
  • “Approve or deny initial and renewal program applications:” and
  • “Monitor and oversee programs approved for operation.”

The Medical Marijuana Commission is reportedly facing “some major hurdles.” First comes the supply issue; under the law, marijuana must come either from the federal government (which “currently refuses to provide marijuana even for some short-term, FDA-approved studies”) or state-licensed growers (who would have to “prove their crop is going only to the medical program”). Furthermore, medical marijuana must be dispensed at facilities with academic medical programs—but the University of Maryland Medical System and Johns Hopkins may not want to get involved.

The state’s cautious approach toward legalizing medical marijuana is telling. If Maryland eventually does embrace the legalization of recreational marijuana, as Heather Mizeur thinks it should, it will undoubtedly do so slowly and carefully.

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photo credit: 401(K) 2013 via photopin cc

Sales tax rates, rules, and regulations change frequently. Although we hope you'll find this information helpful, this blog is for informational purposes only and does not provide legal or tax advice.
Gail Cole
Avalara Author
Gail Cole
Gail Cole
Avalara Author Gail Cole
Gail began researching and writing about sales tax in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.