FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Maryland’s 2021 Cannabis Legalization Conference Draws National Attention
Conference to address cannabis policy reform priorities for the 2021 General Assembly.
ANNAPOLIS, MD 02/01/2021 – The Maryland state chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (Maryland NORML) is hosting the second annual state-wide conference for advocates, legislators, regulators, industry professionals, and cannabis consumers to discuss marijuana law reform priorities. This year’s conference is free, virtual, and appealing to a national audience interested in understanding more about Maryland’s plans for a legal, regulated adult use cannabis market.
“The marijuana prohibition policy is overtly racist, and fifty-seven percent of drug related arrests in Maryland are for marijuana; there can be no police or racial justice reform without full marijuana legalization. The harmful legacy of this racist policy is too costly to extend into another year of disproportionate police discretion.”
– Luke Jones, Director Maryland NORML
According to Maryland’s 2019 Uniform Crime Report, our police record more than fifteen-thousand marijuana possession arrests and nearly two-thousand arrests for marijuana sale or distribution each year – almost two marijuana arrests every hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – even though possession of less than 10 grams of the popular plant was decriminalized in 2014.
“Arresting people for marijuana possession serves no public interest and imposes significant burdens on Maryland families, their communities, and state resources,” said Maryland NORML Director Luke Jones, the conference organizer. “As Maryland moves closer to launching a legal commercial market for adults who choose to use cannabis responsibly, the practice of arresting people for marijuana possession makes no sense – especially while lawmakers are trying to find ways to automatically expunge most of these arrest records.”
“Considering the racist origin, intent, and effect of our prohibition era laws, the time to legalize marijuana use and possession by adults is long overdue.” – Luke Jones, Director, Maryland NORML
The Maryland Cannabis Policy Conference is free, online, and features an impressive lineup of speakers, including Delegate Jazz Lewis (D, Prince George’s County) and Senator Brian Feldman (D, Montgomery County) who are leading Maryland’s cannabis policy reform efforts in Annapolis. According to NORML, the legislation introduced by Del. Lewis would establish the most social equity conscious cannabis program in the country. “I would like to acknowledge both Sen. Brian Feldman and Del. Jazz Lewis for leading efforts in the state legislature to adopt a responsible version of Marijuana legalization. I have reviewed the draft language for this proposal they are pushing and want to especially note the strong social equity provisions to ensure that those communities and individuals that were most impacted by marijuana prohibition will be assured an opportunity to participate in the legal market. I expect your social equity provisions may prove to be a model other states will wish to mimic.” – Keith Stroup, NORML founder and legal council
Organizers designed the Maryland Cannabis Policy Conference to help attendees prepare to be effective policy reform advocates during this year’s cannabis legalization lobby campaign, which takes place virtually on February 9, 10, and 11. As of publication, more than 150 voters from 40 of Maryland’s 47 senate districts are pre-registered to lobby their elected representatives to end marijuana prohibition in Maryland during the current legislative session.
Judy Pentz founded Maryland NORML in 2014 and achieved the coveted “chapter of the year” award from the national organization one year later. “Elected officials work for us, and the people are ready to see this policy change. Meeting our representatives on zoom this year can make a real difference – people need to make their voices heard in the Annapolis.” – Judy Pentz, former Director, Maryland NORML
In addition to Sen. Feldman and Del. Lewis, other speakers include some of the most impactful voices for marijuana policy reform in Maryland: Sen. President Bill Ferguson (D, Baltimore City), chair of the General Assembly’s powerful Finance Committee and Marijuana Legalization Work Group; Sen. Will Smith (D, Montgomery County), chair of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee; Rajani Gudlavalleti, Director of Mobilization, Baltimore Harm Reduction Coalition; Martin Mitchell, President, Prince George’s County Young Democrats; and Eric E. Sterling, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation (retired).
The quality of Maryland’s proposal to end marijuana prohibition, legalize responsible cannabis commerce, and target cannabis tax revenue investments to communities most impacted by prohibition has gained national attention. In addition to NORML founder Keith Stroup, Maryland’s 2021 Cannabis Policy Conference features Steven Hawkins, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project, Adam Eidinger, Social Action Director, Dr. Bronner’s, and Steve DeAngelo, an international cannabis reform leader.
The full Maryland Cannabis Legalization Conference 2021 agenda is available on the Eventbrite conference registration page.
Marijuana is legal for adults to buy and use in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington. Marijuana is also decriminalized in the District of Columbia, but Congress has prevented the District from establishing a legal commercial market.