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Maryland Collects More Than $12 Million In Legal Marijuana Taxes During First Quarter Of Legal Sales

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Maryland brought in more than $12 million in marijuana tax revenue during the first three months of legal cannabis sales to adults, which kicked off on July 1.

The figures, released this week by the state comptroller’s office, detail revenues from the third quarter of the fiscal year, which spanned from July through September. Sales of recreational marijuana during that period totaled about $158.5 million, according to the Maryland Cannabis Administration (MCA).

More than a third of the tax revenue—35 percent, or about $4.3 million—will be funneled into the state’s Community Reinvestment and Repair Fund, which is intended to support communities disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition.

Another three disbursements of just over $600,000 each will go to local governments, the state’s cannabis public health fund and a state cannabis business assistance fund, according to the comptroller’s office report.

Another roughly $6 million will be deposited into the state’s general fund.

A large portion of the quarterly tax revenue—nearly 45 percent—came from cannabis sales in Maryland’s central region, which includes Baltimore.

State officials cheered the additional revenue in statements released alongside the tax revenue data.

Gov. Wes Moore (D) said the “strong revenues” so far “reflect the strength of the rollout of Maryland’s newly formed adult recreational cannabis industry,” saying the money is “critical to supporting social equity and economic growth, which are central” to his administration’s values.

“We’ll continue to work in partnership to promote inclusion, accountability, and fairness across Maryland’s cannabis industry,” the governor said.

Comptroller Brooke E. Lierman (D), meanwhile, pledged to continue to share data from the new industry.

“Transparency is crucial to earning and maintaining the public trust, and my Office is committed to helping Marylanders understand what this new part of the economy is generating in taxes,” she said. “We look forward to sharing information with the public every quarter, tracking the growth of the adult-use cannabis industry in Maryland, and positioning our state for a more prosperous future.”

As the state’s legal market continues to get off the ground, regulators also last month officially opened the first round of applications for new adult-use marijuana dispensary, cultivation and processing licenses that were reserved exclusively for social equity businesses.

The licensing round, which closed on Tuesday, includes 75 dispensary, 16 grower and 32 processor licenses and will eventually more than double the number of legal retailers in the state. Currently only existing medical marijuana dispensaries that converted to dual licenses are serving adult consumers.

There are caps on the number of licenses that can be awarded per region, with 11 standard dispensary licenses available in Baltimore City, compared to one in Worcester, for example.

MCA previously unveiled an online portal in September that allows people to check their eligibility for a social equity marijuana business license.

In October, MCA issued guidance to existing marijuana operators meant to help minimize the risk of burglaries and other crimes at licensed cannabis businesses amid what they said was an uptick in thefts targeting dispensaries across the state.

A Maryland tax official said earlier this year that the state had to find an unusual workaround with Wells Fargo in order to avoid clearly identifying marijuana tax revenue on financial forms—a policy that prohibitionists subsequently asked a federal prosecutor to investigate.

A separate Maryland law also took effect in July that prevents police from using the odor or possession of marijuana alone as the basis of a search. And another law that went into force making it so the lawful and responsible use of cannabis by parents and guardians cannot be construed by state officials as child “neglect.”

Republican lawmakers, however, are already aiming to undo the law that prevents police from stopping or searching people and vehicles based on the smell of marijuana, claiming the measure has put motorists at risk and taken away an important tool used by law enforcement to seize people’s firearms.

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Ben Adlin, a senior editor at Marijuana Moment, has been covering cannabis and other drug policy issues professionally since 2011. He was previously a senior news editor at Leafly, an associate editor at the Los Angeles Daily Journal and a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs. He lives in Washington State.

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