The future of marijuana in Maryland

Marijuana advocates will be back at the State House in next year's legislative session pushing for something more like full legalization -- like what’s happened in Colorado and Washington State.

It hasn't come close to happening here yet, but some companies are already trying to make sure they'll be ready if it does.

In the first half of this year, people in Colorado spend $70 million buying pot legally, bringing the state more than $11 million in tax revenue.

This year in Maryland, Del. Curt Anderson (D-Baltimore City) sponsored a bill that would have made marijuana legal to buy and sell here.

“This is a radical idea supposedly, but when you start to really look into it and you see the fact that marijuana certainly is not as dangerous a drug as alcohol and it doesn't kill you like cigarettes, then people start thinking, why is this drug illegal?” he said during an interview with ABC2 News in February of this year.

Washington State has also gone to full legalization -- but more slowly than Colorado. Already, dealers have been overwhelmed by the demand.

“This whole past week we've been working 12 to 15 hours a day. I hear that there's about 500 pounds for the whole state and that means there's going to be shortages for people,” one dealer said.

Matt Herman, a lawyer from Michigan, believes that kind of demand also exists in Maryland.

His company, Cannabis Solutions, is raising money for a large-scale growing operation in Colorado.

He is looking for investors in our state, and also employees to try and help the company -- literally -- grow here.

“The marijuana / cannabis industry is just like the Wild West,” he said.  “As they transition to a few licensees, they're going to be in smooth sailing and not make criminals out of law-abiding citizens"

Herman believes having a few large marijuana producers would make it easier for the state regulate and tax them.  And of course, he would like Cannabis Solutions to be one of those producers if legalization ever does come to the Free State.

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“If I'm being honest you know just a straight decriminalization, recreational just 'go' as of tomorrow it wouldn't go well,” he said.  “You really need a lot of careful planning and I think the steps that Maryland is taking towards that on maybe a two or five year plan are the appropriate steps.

“The last thing you want to do is just rush to get some laws done because your session is ending and not have something that's well thought out.”

There was some movement on the marijuana issue in the 2014 legislative session.  Gov. Martin O’Malley signed a bill that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana . The law will go into effect on October first.

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