House Speaker Michael E. Busch convened several of his lawmakers — including Dels. C. William Frick and Jeff Waldstreicher — to study marijuana policy in Maryland, which included questions of whether the state should take the first steps toward legalization.
Multiple pieces of legislation have been proposed this session attempting to do everything from easing restrictions on medicinal use of marijuana and decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of pot, to making Maryland the latest state to legalize, tax and regulate the substance.
Known as the Marijuana Work Group, the panel was formed for the purpose of “information gathering and information sharing,” said Frick, who is the group’s chairman.
So far the work group’s meetings have been primarily informational, said Waldstreicher (D-Dist. 18) of Kensington.
He said the group is trying to better understand what’s at play when it comes to medical marijuana and marijuana generally.
Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis has said he does not support recreational use of marijuana, but he said he did not form the group — which was done quietly — to study the bills to death, but rather give everyone a broad view of the issue.
“I think it [the issue] evolved quickly and people need as much information as they can possibly get,” he said.
Frick (D-Dist. 16) of Bethesda said the group has heard from subject matter experts with on all sides, including from organizations like the National Conference of State Legislatures that would not likely testify on the bills.
But now that it has completed its hearings, what is next for the work group remains uncertain.
Waldstreicher said the group has the ability to make recommendations. Whether it will or not remains to be seen.
Frick said he expects it to meet again and hopes the work group will discuss the issue, but it has not scheduled any more meetings as of Thursday. Frick said he announces the dates and times for meetings from the floor; the group will not have a published schedule of meetings.