In the United States, local governments often fight for the right to make cannabis zoning map amendments. Often municipalities are at odds with nearby states, who often have more lax marijuana laws than do the locals. However, a marijuana zoning map amendment has been proposed in Maryland, and that proposal has so far passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 66 to 35. Now, it is going head to the Senate for a final vote.
The legislature in Maryland is controlled by the liberal wing of the party, which sees no reason why the state should interfere with the rights of lawful marijuana users. The vocal minority in the legislature, which includes Democrats and Republicans, want the state to entirely regulate marijuana. They argue that marijuana is more dangerous than cigarettes, because it is smoked rather than consumed in any way. They also fear that legalized marijuana will end up being seen as a taxable item, and that the state will lose its black market tax revenue. Legalization advocates say that taxing marijuana will bring in much-needed funds to help fix roads and build schools.
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Two recent studies indicate that the legalization of marijuana is not likely to raise rates on car insurance, and it may even reduce traffic offenses by as much as 30%. Since marijuana is smoked, it is much less likely to result in addiction than is tobacco. Additionally, advocates for legalized marijuana in Maryland claim that young people will be unable to find any other place to purchase marijuana if the plant is fully legalized. This will eliminate the need for drug dealers to be introduced into the juvenile system, since marijuana is considered less harmful than tobacco.
Although marijuana is illegal under federal law, some cities, such as Seattle, have passed ordinances that allow marijuana use within city limits, but prohibit it within the rest of the city or state. While voters will not be able to regulate marijuana like they can regulate tobacco, local municipalities can implement regulations that are stricter than state and federal laws. The presence of a cannabis zoning map could create pressure from local officials to reclassify marijuana use as an illegal act. In some cases, marijuana use by adults is legal in a city, but not by minors.
If the city of Baltimore decides to reclassify cannabis as an illegal substance, local residents can apply to take advantage of an existing provision in the city’s charter that allows for taxation of cannabis sales and use. Currently, nine states and Washington, DC already allow the regulation of medical marijuana and taxation of wholesale marijuana sales. A cannabis zoning map could also be passed at the city and county level, which would allow local governments to individually decide how they would implement taxation and regulation of cannabis. The General Assembly, which is controlled by marijuana supporters, could even introduce separate legislation to legalize marijuana.
Regardless of what your opinion is about marijuana use, the fact remains that marijuana is illegal under federal law. However, marijuana users may not be breaking the law if they grow it inside their homes or operate their businesses according to state law. While many local governments are considering moving forward with new policies surrounding marijuana, many local police departments continue to aggressively arrest and prosecute people for using or cultivating marijuana. Since cannabis is still considered illegal on the federal level, it is a better idea for citizens to educate themselves about marijuana zoning maps and local marijuana laws before they decide whether to use grow or consume marijuana. Being informed could help you avoid getting into any unwanted trouble with the local government or local law enforcement.