The Legislature Should Legislate

by Jared Schwartz ’18

The Maryland legislature is currently considering two methods to legalize recreational marijuana. The legislature could either pass two bills to directly regulate and tax the sale of recreational marijuana, or they could pass a constitutional amendment to create a referendum for recreational marijuana in 2018. Maryland should directly legalize marijuana instead of putting it up for referendum, as it is clear that a majority of Maryland residents are in favor of it.

According to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll conducted in September, 2016, 61% of Marylanders support “legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.” A referendum would be redundant for determining popular support for marijuana, so the legislature should be proactive in legalizing marijuana as soon as possible. We trust representative government to represent their constituents in almost every aspect of policy, so why should drug policy be any different? Instead of relying on direct democracy to determine policy, the state government should do what they were elected to do and set policy themselves, especially when their constituency thinks that the current policy is currently overly restrictive. It is clear that Marylanders support legalizing Marijuana; the only question is whether the government does.