MARYLAND, USA — On July 1, 2023, recreational marijuana will be legal in the state of Maryland.
In November, more than 850,000 people voted in favor of adding the constitutional amendment called Question 4 on the ballot.
It read, "Do you favor the legalization of the use of cannabis by an individual who is at least 21 years of age on or after July 1, 2023, in the State of Maryland? (Adding Article XX, Section 1 to the Maryland Constitution)"
On Friday, Maryland state lawmakers released Senate Bill 516, an 88-page document that details how it will all work.
"The goal wasn't to get Marylanders high, it was to take cannabis out of the criminal stream of commerce to stop minority young men from getting arrested and dying from it," said Del. C.T. Wilson (D-MD).
He told WUSA9 that the bill centers around social equity, "inclusion for disproportionately affected communities that have basically been affected by the war on drugs."
"We're making sure that not only can they participate but they can benefit," said Wilson.
He told WUSA9 that less than 2% of participants in the cannabis industry are minorities.
"That's a problem and Maryland can do much better," said Wilson
When it comes to who gets licenses first, according to the bill, first dibs will be given to businesses who already have licenses to sell medical marijuana.
Next, an Office of Social Equity and the Attorney General would identify communities that were "disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs." People who lived there, would be next in line.
Jume Akinnagbe, the President of Marileaves Extraction LLC, told WUSA9 giving recreational licenses to those with current medical marijuana licenses first, does the opposite.
"It allows the current operators who are majority white, Caucasian, it allows them to get into the recreational market and to propel further on before the next set of licenses are issued," said Akinnagbe.
Wilson told WUSA9 they hope to flip the script and encourage minority business owners to apply for licenses and jump on board this budding industry.
"It is an embarrassment to see the lack of minority participation across the nation. I know Maryland can do better," said Wilson.
To read the entire bill, click here.